The Top Seven Found Footage Horrors
Mockumentaries, sometimes described as found footage films, have gained popularity after the initial release of The Blair Witch in 1999 for their shaky and realistic portrayal of first-person horror. If you are looking to be put in the place of the protagonist in your favorite horror genres or simply don’t want to sleep tonight, here are a few worth having a weekend binge for.
7. Megan Is Missing (2011)
Widely known across social media as one of the most gut-wrenching and anxiety-inducing horror films to date, the story follows best friends Megan and Amy via camcorder and webcam as they struggle not only with fitting in and growing up, but a mysterious online user named Josh. The movie takes a bit to get rolling, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining. Entering the difficult lives of two young women with very different lifestyles, the scenario creates characters we get attached to, something that isn’t too common with most modern horror films, I’d say. The last twenty minutes are worth the watch. Just be sure not to watch this one alone!
6. As Above, So Below (2015)
I recommend As Above, So Below to everyone who asks for horror recommendations. A determined graduate student with a penchant for travel and alchemy heads to France’s enormous underground catacombs in search of a relic her late father sought out years beforehand. Needless to say, this film does cater to the supernatural as well as physical horror like claustrophobia and speluncaphobia (cave phobia). What makes this film the perfect mockumentary is the plot itself, which does not drag along nor does the tension ever cease. If finding a good plot is difficult when it comes to found footage and horror films in general, As Above, So Below actually manages to tie up all its loose ends except for the obvious obscure references to heaven and hell.
5. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Of course, a classic should be involved in this list. The Blair Witch Project follows three students of filmography who come to a small town, hoping to make a documentary about the legendary Blair Witch killer. Over the course of their trek through the surrounding footage, they find there’s no turning back and that the insanely creepy noises they’re hearing may not just be the wildlife that lives there. I’d have to say this one doesn’t carry a lot of weight in jump scares, but if the dark and a few noises can scare a majority of its viewers, there’s no reason to skip a classic
4. The Paranormal Activity Franchise (2006 – 2021)
Not only is it one film, but a series of films dealing with demons, poltergeists, the occult, and a horrendous twist. The franchise begins with Micah and Katie, a couple living in San Diego, California who must contend with the demon that has haunted Katie since she was a child. In their endeavors to find out what the demon wants and routinely (but daftly) bringing in a Ouija board to make contact, they find outside help is well beyond their reach. For longtime horror buffs, this might be the lightest selection on this list if you want to be able to turn the lights out at night. If horror is not usually welcome at movie night, perhaps, watch this during the day with a friend or two.
3. V/H/S Horror Anthology (2012 – 2021)
How much money would it take for you to enter an abandoned house alone to watch a simple videotape in the same room as a dead body? Quite a bit, I’m guessing. For one group of criminals it’s the ultimate payoff, but come to find, they get more than they bargained for when each member begins to contend with the evil these tapes bring upon them. Each film consists of a series of shorts directed and written by different directors (Ti West, Adam Wingard, and David Bruckner, for example) while interweaving with the present. Demons, murderers, and poltergeists make a round of frightening and gory appearances, leaving all to question if the money these criminals are after is worth the trauma.
2. The Visit (2015)
About to spend time with their grandparents for the first time in rural Pennsylvania, siblings Becca and Tyler use a camcorder to document the visit. All seems normal except for two strict rules in the house: Do not go into the basement and do not leave their bedroom after 9:30PM. As simple as it might sound, the rules are, of course, eventually broken by the siblings who must survive their grandparents’ odd and erratic behavior for the entire week. Directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan, this mockumentary is light on gore, but nonetheless, an excellent source of jump scares.
1. The Sacrament (2014)
Inspired by true events surrounding the infamous events in Jonestown, a team of investigators head to a secluded commune surrounded by armed guards and robotic followers of a man called Father, who they all claimed had saved their lives at one point. The enigmatic Father (Gene Jones) welcomes the team’s presence with a warm facade, but when a small group of Father’s followers make it known they need an escape, it becomes clear not all is well in this small community. If you are looking for horror based on the phenomenon of 1970’s cult popularity, this is definitely a must-watch for fans of true crime or realistic horror.
Ghosts, cults, crazy grandparents, and haunted videotapes take the cake when it comes to mockumentaries, and if you aren’t convinced, there are still plenty more unlisted worth scouring Amazon Prime and Shudder for. All of these films are available for rent now on your favorite streaming platforms such as Hulu, Netflix, and Vudu!
The Sacrament (2014) Official Trailer