What Makes Found Footage Horror Movies Work So Well? – GameRant

Found footage horror movies are an interesting subgenre and there are many elements that make them so fun to watch.
While some found footage horror movies are poorly constructed, with the 2015 release The Gallows being a prime example, it can be a fun and exciting subgenre. These films are shot uniquely as the idea is that audiences are watching the camera footage that one or more characters have been shooting. This gives the story a grounded and gritty feeling, with purposefully shaky camerawork or super dark settings.
When found footage is done poorly, it's obvious and forgettable, and some of these movies appear like carbon copies of each other. But when the subgenre works, it's artistic and fun and definitely worth talking about. There are a few elements that define a well-made found footage film, allow them to stand out from the rest, and make them fan favorites that can be seen again and again.
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When looking back on the most popular found footage movies, like The Blair Witch Project and the Paranormal Activity franchise from Blumhouse, these films are shot in a more realistic and grounded manner than a slasher or another type of supernatural movie. Not everyone believes in ghosts and it's possible to say that of course there would be no evil spirit hiding in the forest or in someone's house or apartment. But it's easy to imagine being afraid or feeling uneasy about the possibility of these figures, which makes watching these movies feel at least a little bit eerie.
The shaky camerawork and the way that these stories are structured make found footage movies all about setting. While there should still be well-written characters and a smart plot that makes sense, it's true that the place where these movies take place becomes more important. This allows the viewer to put themselves into the story and imagine themselves going through this scenario.
Found footage movies have also made an impression on pop culture and are some of the most memorable horror stories, which is saying something considering how many films have been released over the past few decades. The Blair Witch Project started viral marketing, as when the movie was released in 1999, people thought that the story was real and that the college students had gone camping in the woods and found an evil witch. The Paranormal Activity franchise is also unforgettable. While the last few movies haven't received the same positive reviews as the first few, every new release is still talked about.
The fact that there are so many poorly made found footage movies proves the popularity of this subgenre and how filmmakers want to be part of the trend. There will always be fans waiting for more, even though some of these movies are unoriginal and dull, and that makes this an exciting subgenre that deserves attention. Even the worst releases can share lessons about what not to do. Overrated found footage movies, for instance, sometimes have a good premise but don't do much with it.
M. Night Shyamalan's found footage film The Visit is one of his best and most creative movies, which proves what can be done with this subgenre. The story follows two kids who visit their grandparents and notice them acting really oddly, which confuses them at first and then, as the plot deepens, terrifies them. Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) and Becca (Olivia DeJonge) film a documentary of this trip, and they definitely don't expect what happens next. The movie has a smart twist about what is really going on, which is typical of the writer/director.
However, if this story was told in a more traditional and conventional manner, it wouldn't be nearly as cool. The fact that the main characters are filming the story themselves makes it easier to sympathize with them and hope that they are going to be okay. The Visit is a good example of the creativity that can be part of this subgenre if filmmakers ensure that their movies stand out from the crowd. The movie is definitely better than Shyamalan's 2021 thriller Old, which is a flat adaptation of a short story, and it's fun to see the filmmaker work in this subgenre.
As long as these types of movies tell a proper story with a beginning, middle, and end, then this horror subgenre can be one of the most well-crafted and interesting. At the very least, it's always fun to see what a new found footage film is going to be like and to compare it to what came before. Some of these movies are impressive and fully immerse the viewer in the story.
NEXT: 5 Underrated Found Footage Sci-Fi Movies
Aya Tsintziras is a freelance writer who writes about TV, movies, and has a particular interest in the horror genre. She has a Political Science degree from the University of Toronto and a Masters of Journalism from Ryerson University. She loves coffee, reading, working out, and watching TV. She lives in Toronto.


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