Found footage horror has a lot more suitors since The Blair Witch Project was released in 1999. Now everybody is an amateur filmmaker with the phone in our pocket. With the growth of online streaming platforms helping redefine the term “straight-to-video”, it’s meant the genre has had a massive influx of titles. Here’s 10 of the best found footage horror films of the 2010s.
We’ve seen a lot of found footage horror films arrive in the 2010s. They’re easier to make and cost less than conventional movies. Anyone can have a go at making one (and many have). It hasn’t always meant the genre gets the most pleasing entries. In fact, it gets some of cinema’s worst. But for fans, the legacy of The Blair Witch Project has provided a group of talented filmmakers with the inspiration to create some startling work. Here we check out some of the best found footage horror of the 2010s.
10. Ratter (Kramer, 2015)
Ratter has plenty to offer. It deals with a very contemporary threat that is suitably established through the found footage aesthetic; tangible fears that will resonate with audiences. Writer-director Branden Kramer’s real skill is using that approach to create some well-orchestrated thrills, using every inch of the frame to ponder what might be lurking in the darkness.
9. Phoenix Forgotten (Barber, 2017)
For fans of the genre, Phoenix Forgotten is one of the more satisfying films. It’s a technically accomplished found footage horror which, while relying on convention, offers appealing thrills in delivering a nerve-jangling addition to the alien abduction niche. Surprises might be at a premium but expectation is definitely served.
8. Bad Ben (Bach, 2016)
Let me introduce you to writer-direct Nigel Bach, the apotheosis of 2010s digital filmmaking – a man who does absolutely everything himself. If Hollywood is the orchestra, he’s the one-man-band sitting outside the coffee shop. Here he delights in controlling every element of the process – from editing to special effects to, presumably, feeding the crew (himself) – as he turns his house into a harbinger of paranormal doom. The film has spawned endless sequels that riff off the same notes but this one is distinctly enjoyable for those that love their haunted houses.
7. Willow Creek (Goldthwait, 2013)
Transplanting ideas “borrowed” from The Blair Witch Project into a setting besieged not this time by a witch but by sasquatch works well in Willow Creek. The all-encompassing forest creates a disorientating claustrophobia while the beast that stalks by night is a foreboding menace.
6. Unfriended (Gabriadze, 2014)
Aesthetically sparse, Unfriended brings found footage horror to the world of social media, basing its entire story on the computer screen of Blaire Lily (Shelley Hennig) and her interaction with friends via various online platforms. Director Leo Gabriadze deserves a lot of credit for finding ways within social media and video sharing sites to create nerve wrangling tension. Who’d have thought that typing a message on Facebook could be so dramatic.
5. Troll Hunter (Ovredal, 2010)
Scandinavia gets in on the “found footage” bandwagon with this appealingly alternate take on the technique. Instead of ghosts, a group of students set out to document the life of a bear poacher only to find his prey is actually the mythical Troll.
4. The Last Exorcism (Stamm, USA, 2010)
An effective found footage film about a sceptical Reverend who happily performs dramatic fake exorcisms to help those who claim to be possessed. He meets his match, and finds his sanity severely tested, when his latest case proves to be, shall we say, uncooperative!
3. The Visit (Shyamalan, 2015)
The Visit was like writer-director M. Night Shyamalan saying “remember me, the guy who used to make brilliant, twisty supernatural thrillers with endings you didn’t see coming”. This felt like The Sixth Sense filmmaker’s comeback film, the one that showed us the creative juices were still flowing. Whether The Visit exhibits Shyamalan purposely going back to basics (it was made for a fraction of the cost of his other movies) or simply hitting upon a good idea, he rekindled a long, almost lost passion for the art with this film.
2. Hell House (Cognetti, 2016)
Even though Stephen Cognetti’s Hell House LLC sticks closely to the conventions of the genre, its mechanics tried and trusted countless times since The Blair Witch Project, it finds an unsettling contemporary niche. Its premise, inspired by a haunted house attraction-gone-wrong, bears the tragic hallmarks of a smartphone-filmed frenzied dash for safety following a terrorist attack.
1. Creep (Brice, 2014)
Patrick Brice’s Creep is undoubtedly one of the best found footage horror films since the mighty The Blair Witch Project hit cinemas in 1999. Unlike a number of found footage efforts that have tended to mimic Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick’s frightening jaunt in the woods, Brice finds a unique perspective to stage a terrifying ordeal that is authentically captured on video.
What are your favourite found footage horror films of the 2010s?