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What I’ve Learned From Found Footage Films

by on 07/10/2012

My comrades and I have been going through Netflix’s found footage films lately. Generally the ones found there are just knock-offs and cash-ins of Paranormal Activity or shows like Ghost Hunters. A few of these have surprised us in their quality and the scares. I have not seen a few of the ones Austin and Saif have but I have seen the Paranormal Activity films. I have probably seen more found footage movies in the past two weeks than I will for the rest of my life. Regardless, I’ve made a few observations.

1. Security Cameras

Security cameras are pretty much a staple in the genre. I don’t hate them but it seems like I’m watching the same thing repeatedly. Paranormal Entity (2009) refrained from having terrible SC but this movie was also kind of in the middle ground of all the movies we watched. The absolute worst offender of SC was 8213: Gacy House (2010). Every 5-10 minutes it would cut to cameras stationed inside the house (one even being outside the house) where most of the time nothing was happening. For being such an awful travesty, Amityville Haunting (2011) had not the worst SC footage.

I would rather watch this camera perform its duties than watch Amityville Haunting again

SC are going to pretty much be inevitable in these types of movies. As long as filmmakers keep making them interesting and pay no attention to 8213: Gacy House, we might be ok.

2. “True Stories”

In every single one of these movies, they claim to be true stories. Fine. I don’t mind that aspect. The problem is is that the filmmakers forget that they have to convince the viewer of the possibility that it actually is true. The acting in Amityville Horror was enough to convince me otherwise of anything in that movie actually happening. The stupid kid behind the camera the whole time acted like he was making a Youtube video and was oblivious to the fact that his dad was neglecting him along the lines of child abuse.

This is about the time when I stopped paying attention (45 seconds in)

Even worse, two people die (TWO!!) in their house on the day they are shown the house and the day they move in! I would have jetted from that place!

3. Scariness 

This sounds like a no-brainer. I will admit that even the crappiest horror movie will make me move quickly throughout my house after watching. During the movie however, I am usually laughing at whatever is not scary on the screen. Grave Encounters (2011) was the biggest surprise in quality and managed to have some fantastically scary scenes. First off, the setting was already creepy: an abandoned mental asylum with no discernible way out. The use of real night vision (a breath of fresh air after Amityville Haunting) added to the realism as well. Since it’s in an abandoned asylum, there is essentially no lighting except for flashlights and the night vision. Paranormal Entity had a few moments that had me on edge and one scare that got all of us. I don’t know how to suggest for a film to be scarier. I will say that pop-ups, while they can be scary, are pretty mundane. I get more creeped out from startling revelations.

The scariest part of Amityville Haunting was whether or not this kid could keep his hair under control

I don’t mind the found footage genre. I think it has some potential that can be dug up. I would like to see a movie in the same vein of the Paranormal Activity movies but with real people instead of ghosts. Because, who isn’t afraid of people in your house who aren’t supposed to be there?

This article has been building up to this. Amityville Haunting. I detest this movie. I was stressed out after watching it which made me enjoy Gossip Girl less than I usually do. Nothing is ok about this movie. Just ignore it in the bargain trash heap at K-Mart (this garbage couldn’t make it in to a Walmart if it had legs). The only redeemable quality of this “film” is the breakdown that the father has at the end of the movie. I could actually side with him by the end of it all because I felt like I was going crazy as well. Writing this has made me experience something I didn’t plan on experiencing again so soon so I’m just gonna quit here and try to forget about it all.

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