Film Score Monthly
FSM HOME MESSAGE BOARD FSM CDs FSM ONLINE RESOURCES FUN STUFF ABOUT US  SEARCH FSM   
Search Terms: 
Search Within:   search tips 
You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
 
 Posted:   Feb 16, 2012 - 10:14 PM   
 By:   JSWalsh   (Member)

This is one of those sub-genres I expected to hate when I first heard about people getting queasy watching BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, but I've never had any issues like that. I see the whole technique disparaged, but I enjoy these movies, probably more than I should...

I think my favorites of this type are BLAIR WITCH, REC and the much-reviled CLOVERFIELD, which I think is kept from total greatness only by the silly design of the monster.

THE LAST BROADCAST is the predecessor to BWP, but while watching it I thought I'd found a new favorite, but the ending was so awful it ruined all that preceded it.

I've yet to see CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, which is considered the original. The latest one I've seen is APOLLO 18, which I enjoyed, though the monsters kept it from being top-notch. I just picked up THE FOURTH KIND to watch this weekend.

Here is the Wikipedia entry, with a long list of such films:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Found_footage_(genre)#Examples_of_found-footage_TV_series_and_made_for_TV_specials

Instead of repetitive lists, could you post one or two favorites, and explain why you like them?

Any suggestions for further viewing would be appreciated.

 
 Posted:   Feb 16, 2012 - 10:39 PM   
 By:   Mr Greg   (Member)

All the ones you mention....although I have yet to see The Last Broadcast.

You mention REC, but you didn't mention it's American Twin Brother "Quarantine". Whatever you think of the motives of making this movie, it's still an atsmospheric, claustrophobic romp with some genuine jumps. Is it better than REC? No, I don't think so, but it's a decent flick all the same. Unfortunately, the American series then went off on it's own to produce "Quarantine 2 - Terminal". 'Nuff said. REC2 is excellent.

I love The Last Exorcism, right down to the ambiguous ending....a genuine feeling of dread, and a nice twist. I hear a sequel is on it's way...not sure what to make of that!

I didn't realise Cloverfield was reviled? I thought it was a cracking movie!

Apollo 18 - yeah, I agree with your opinions. Would have liked to have seen something a bit more....erm....movie-like (the briefly-seen big ones on the Moon's surface reminded me of the Masters from "The Tripods")

EDIT - Oh - I should give an honourable to "Paranormal Entity" - Asylum's rip off of "---Activity" (obviously)....easily the best movie they've made, by quite some distance (and yes, I've seen most of them...someone has to!)...horrible script, but manages to build a genuine sense of fear and dread - right up to what is really quite a shocking conclusion. Sequel is worth catching too, but avoid the third at all costs.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 16, 2012 - 10:48 PM   
 By:   JSWalsh   (Member)

sign me,

I own QUARANTINE and really like it, but it is so much like the original that it was distracting. I mean, I've never checked but it must be close to a shot-by-shot remake. I haven't seen REC 2, but will check it out. I hear there is a REC 3 in the works.

Haven't seen LAST EXORICISM because I heard only negative comments, but will check it out, too.

I have seen TONS of hate for CLOVERFIELD. I saw it on DVD after getting it and returning it unwatched once or twice, and, to use the review cliche, I was utterly riveted. I did not expect to like it THAT much.

APOLLO 18 had the makings of something unique. (Wasn't there another 'creatures found on the moon' movie being rushed to beat this one to the theaters, and wasn't it cancelled?) The recreation of the period, the cool visuals of the moon (too many instances of sound when there should have been silence), and the moment when they approach the 'derelict' spaceship were just outstanding. But I started getting restless, checked the time, and it was not even 30 minutes in. The creatures were a major let-down, and the 'thing growing inside' was same-old, but the finale worked pretty well. (I have to wonder how they found all this footage, though, because the climax makes me think everything was lost for good. Even if some of the spaceship could be retrieved, there were multiple sources--they found ALL of that stuff years later? They could even have incorporated the inabilty to recover certain things.) It left me with some creepy images, which is all I ask for this kind of movie, but it missed a lot of opportunities.

 
 Posted:   Feb 16, 2012 - 10:53 PM   
 By:   Mr Greg   (Member)

Yeah, Apollo 18 had some good moments, but as you suggest it has a fundemental problem with how the footage got found! And it was a little tedious...the attention to detail in the way the film looks though is really quite clever, I think. It's one of those films that I will buy on DVD, but will probably wait til I can get it used for about £1...

The Last Exorcism has come in for some flack...and it does lose it's way a little in the long middle act....but I'm going to say stick with it - it's worth it I think...

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 16, 2012 - 10:53 PM   
 By:   Michael24   (Member)

Not my favorite genre by any means. I've seen a few, but the only ones I liked were The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield.

TBWP, honestly, scared the crap out of me. I saw it in the theater and was just one of three people who were there that morning. With no distractions, I was able to focus exclusively on the movie. It totally pulled me and took me for a ride that I thought was frightening. After it was over, I was almost afraid to get up and make my way to the exit in the darkened theater. I only saw it that one time, though. I've never watched it again since for fear of not liking it as much after all these years of imitators and such. I'd rather preserve the great memory I have of seeing it in theater.

Cloverfield was fun. I liked the idea of making it a monster movie. I thought it worked well, and the monster was scary-looking, especially when it gets in close to the camera.

Otherwise, that's it. Sometimes I feel the shaky-cam stuff (which normally doesn't bother) is indeed played up far too much, and I hate the fact that so many feel they can get away without having an ending. The filmmakers are like, "Well, it's supposed to be found footage so that's why there's no ending." That's no excuse. You can still have an ending. You don't need to just pull the rug out from under people after they've invested the time to watch your story. It'd be like if any other film you were watching simply cut off ten minutes before the end and was never shown again.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 16, 2012 - 10:56 PM   
 By:   JSWalsh   (Member)

Michael24,

I definitely see your points. I don't feel defensive about these movies the way I might about some. These movies actually make me smile, because they are using film to tell a story, they're not just a case of the camera pointing at who's talking. I think that's why I enjoy them--I like how clever some of the filmmaking is, because the whole thing is sustained only by a level of acceptance most people don't seem willing to give in this very graphic, very 'detailed' visual culture we live in currently.

I think I like BWP because while I was born in the city, as a kid we moved out to a heavily-wooded suburb, and lived down the street from thousands of acres of protected forest, so my friends and I would wander for HOURS when we were very young. (There'd be TV coverage and children's services attention today.) So I could really relate to the way the forest was portrayed in this. It is the kind of horror flick that I most love, the kind with some true sense of otherness, of mystery, along with the scares. And I think the final five minutes are some of the scariest in all horror movies.

OT: I hope things are improving with your family and your stress over it which you posted about some time ago. Hang in there.

 
 Posted:   Feb 16, 2012 - 10:57 PM   
 By:   Mr Greg   (Member)

I own QUARANTINE and really like it, but it is so much like the original that it was distracting. I mean, I've never checked but it must be close to a shot-by-shot remake. I haven't seen REC 2, but will check it out. I hear there is a REC 3 in the works.

Yes - it is almost shot-for-shot (apart from an added opening to Quarantine to try and help set it all up a little more...actually makes no difference). Avoid Quarantine 2...unless you like unintentionally funny special effects....oh, that rat! I still smirk at it...I mean, the film's alright I SUPPOSE....opens OK but just goes downhill and doesn't manage to muster much atmosphere.

REC3? Oh...yes please.....!

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 16, 2012 - 11:00 PM   
 By:   JSWalsh   (Member)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/REC_3



"The action in [•REC]: Génesis encompasses the events of the first two films. The action now takes place miles away from the original location and partly in broad daylight giving the film a completely new disturbing atmosphere. "


Hmmm...

 
 Posted:   Feb 18, 2012 - 2:13 AM   
 By:   spook   (Member)

I think its right for this subject but what about THE LAST HORROR MOVIE..a creepy wee film about (if memory serves) a wedding video man and dvd rentals. Chilling ending!

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 18, 2012 - 2:54 AM   
 By:   JSWalsh   (Member)

Spook,

I've heard of that one but thought it was the old Caroline Munro horror flick. Will check this one out, thanks.


On the "Fourth Kind" thread PARANORMAL ACTIVITY gets a couple of mentions. When it first came out I hadn't seen any ads, so I did not know until some of the clients I work with talked about it. I didn't know about the plot, so I saw it with a clean palate.

It held my interest, and the final scene was effective. I just don't recall much else about it. This movie has indeed struck a chord and is this era's BWP, but in a house, not out in the woods. For some folks that makes it a scarier movie, but I just didn't connect with the couple in the condo.

I have not seen 2 or 3. I've heard bad things about the second, but good things about the 3rd.

 
 Posted:   Feb 18, 2012 - 3:33 AM   
 By:   Francis   (Member)

I liked Rec (original) and Cloverfield, saw them both in the theater and enjoyed the atmosphere. Romero's Diary of the Dead was a departure of what he's done before, and I didn't enjoy it as much as his traditionally shot movies.

I have never seen any blairwitch or paranormal activity movies, this 'found footage' genre is not one I seek out, I like the traditionally shot horror movies more.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 18, 2012 - 3:58 AM   
 By:   JSWalsh   (Member)

Francis,

It's definitely a sub-genre that's not for everyone. I always find it interesting to look at the various 'camps' in genres--in crime there's hard-boiled, cozy detective, locked-room, etc. As I've repeated ad nauseum I dislike the 'torture porn' stuff, but found footage has its own special tone.

 
 Posted:   Feb 18, 2012 - 4:00 AM   
 By:   Hercule Platini   (Member)

I have several big problems with found footage movies.

[1] Why is this being filmed? Often there is no reason within the movie for the characters to be filming all this stuff. Even George Romero, who directed the greatest film ever made (Dawn Of The Dead) couldn't get round the central problem of his characters not doing the smart thing and ditching the camera rather than stupidly lugging this chunk of equipment around and trying to keep the flesh-eating unkillable zombie hordes in focus, and I won't accept the idea that the characters were film students. A thoroughly terrible FF film called EVIL THINGS came out recently, and included an exchange along the lines of: Her: "Are you going to be filming everything?" Him: "Absolutely, do you know how much this camera cost?" That's only a useful character trait if you're trying to define the character as an irrational idiot, so why should we care about him?

[2] The Big Lie. Found footage is supposed to be real but I've yet to see a single one where I even thought it might be. We know it's fake. I wasn't aware of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST when it came out so by the time I saw that movie I knew about the controversy and the technique, and the first of the new wave of FF films was THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT around which everyone was saying "it's real..." and "...they were never seen again!!!!" Bollocks. Even I know that if this was real, lawyers and law enforcement authorities would never allow the sale of the footage to a movie company. Part of THE FOURTH KIND supposedly includes police footage of a shooting. And the police, the families and the lawyers agreed its release? Really? Don't underestimate the intelligence of the audience. Don't assume we're stupid. And as mentioned above, the climax of APOLLO 18 (one of the worst films of 2011) negates its very existence.

[3] The artlessness. Because they're supposed to be raw footage or home videos, FF movies end up as visually quite ugly. Deliberately so: they want to maintain the illusion, right? But it's a chore to sit and watch it. The first hour or more of EVIL THINGS is literally watching someone's unedited home movie with bad camera angles, wobbles, things out of focus, everything reduced to indistinct blobs in the darker scenes and the incomprehensible images when someone's running with the camera still on. And that's when things are actually happening. In the PARANORMAL ACTIVITYs, much of that found footage is of either not very much happening (Ooh, the door opened a bit! Ooh, that chair moved a bit!) or absolutely nothing happening, for a long time, in low-definition monochrome night-vision. Say what you like about Michael Bay, but at least in TRANSFORMERS 3 things happened.

[4] Negating the auteur. It's been said that if an aspiring director wants to make a low-budget horror movie to kick off his/her career, then a FF movie is a good place to start. The nature of the project turns limited resources into an asset - no complex lighting and camera setups, no recognisable (and expensive) actors, no music score. You don't even need a DP as the cast will be shooting it all for you. But how can you expect to develop a career when the basis of your calling card is that you didn't actually do anything? The whole point of a FF movie is that it hasn't been directed, it hasn't been written, it hasn't been acted, it hasn't been lit, it hasn't been edited, it hasn't been scored. A found footage director is basically devoting all his energies to denying his own existence. What a twerp.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 18, 2012 - 4:20 AM   
 By:   JSWalsh   (Member)


[2] The Big Lie. Found footage is supposed to be real but I've yet to see a single one where I even thought it might be. We know it's fake. I wasn't aware of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST when it came out so by the time I saw that movie I knew about the controversy and the technique, and the first of the new wave of FF films was THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT around which everyone was saying "it's real..." and "...they were never seen again!!!!" Bollocks. Even I know that if this was real, lawyers and law enforcement authorities would never allow the sale of the footage to a movie company.


I have to say, I am always surprised when I see this criticism of these movies. I've never gone into one of these thinking it was real. While I think some people were tricked into thinking BLAIR WITCH was, that's understandable in those "The Internet is this cool new thing!" days, due to the promoters of the movies studying how real events are portrayed online.

I look at what you wrote above and think, "Well, okay, but it's make-believe." Your objection to the style or lack of is comparable to folks who only like 'pretty' art, or fine art, or perfectly-proportioned paintings of old English estates.

All movies are big lies. Look at TV shows and films that use handheld cameras but AREN'T claiming to be found footage--those are all accepted as just variations on the artificial reality we're being presented with.

The first hour or more of EVIL THINGS is literally watching someone's unedited home movie with bad camera angles, wobbles, things out of focus, everything reduced to indistinct blobs in the darker scenes and the incomprehensible images when someone's running with the camera still on.

What I enjoy about your post is that you've clearly explained what is your personal viewpoint without the phoniness of so many who claim they are speaking for the masses.

Here, you've touched on something many folks object to, but for me, things that are suggested, half-seen, are infinitely scarier and spookier than stuff shoved right at the viewer. In the case of these films, often we see something creeping by in the corner and someone says "Holy crap, what was THAT?!" It's a great, clever way of involving the audience that is unique to the form--the audience is asking the exact same questions because we've seen the exact same thing.


[4] Negating the auteur. It's been said that if an aspiring director wants to make a low-budget horror movie to kick off his/her career, then a FF movie is a good place to start. The nature of the project turns limited resources into an asset - no complex lighting and camera setups, no recognisable (and expensive) actors, no music score. You don't even need a DP as the cast will be shooting it all for you. But how can you expect to develop a career when the basis of your calling card is that you didn't actually do anything? The whole point of a FF movie is that it hasn't been directed, it hasn't been written, it hasn't been acted, it hasn't been lit, it hasn't been edited, it hasn't been scored. A found footage director is basically devoting all his energies to denying his own existence. What a twerp.

This is the best thing about FF films. No phony stylization, but the straightforward telling of a story done using a method that (key word) SEEMINGLY cuts through all the artifice. These movies are or can be as planned out and precise as any high-tech movie, but the viewer thinks it all just happens--just like a good jazz piece.

Mainstream narrative film has been dying ever since the director thought he was the star. Very, very few directors have anything to say. If your example of a filmmaker who at least flags down the viewer and declares his existene is Michael Bay is correct, that in itself is an indictment of the auteur theory. Just because a director has something to say doesn't in itself mean he is doing a good job. In the case of a horror movie, an invisible style is just as significant and real and honest as a showier one.

I think we need more twerp directors. I'm a 'it's the song, not the singer' type.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 18, 2012 - 5:15 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

It's hard to top BLAIR WITCH, which is kinda the benchmark in this subgenre, but I think the Norwegian TROLL HUNTER from a couple of years ago was pretty good.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 18, 2012 - 5:23 AM   
 By:   JSWalsh   (Member)

Thor,

I've had TROLL HUNTER in my hands twice and decided to wait to read a little about it. It sure seems to be a different approach. That's what I like to see--we've seen plenty of people stumbling around empty houses (well, OK, I NEVER get tired of people stumbling around empty houses), let's expand the boundaries a bit.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 18, 2012 - 5:54 AM   
 By:   MikeP   (Member)

Thor,

I've had TROLL HUNTER in my hands twice and decided to wait to read a little about it. It sure seems to be a different approach. That's what I like to see--we've seen plenty of people stumbling around empty houses (well, OK, I NEVER get tired of people stumbling around empty houses), let's expand the boundaries a bit.



Troll Hunter is very good, it is much more humorous, and that's a welcome change. Plus the mythology and the everyday grind of hunting trolls is told in such an off-handed, ho-hum manner, it makes everything much more effective. No doubt, this one is recommended.

And even with their faults, hats off to the Paranormal Activity creators for creating their own mythology. I felt the second movie was especially clever in how it dovetailed into the first movie. The third movie has some very effective moments.

Cloverfield worked very well for me. The monster design didn't bother me, the little crab creatures were terrifying, the only downside was the setup was horribly long, it really needed about 10 minutes trimmed. But everything else was crackerjack.

Apollo 18 was awful, it literally put me to sleep. But I agree with Thor, Blair Witch is the granddaddy, deeply disturbing, and still effective as we watched on Blu Ray recently

 
 Posted:   Feb 18, 2012 - 8:10 AM   
 By:   Grimsdyke   (Member)

But I agree with Thor, Blair Witch is the granddaddy, deeply disturbing, and still effective as we watched on Blu Ray recently

Hardly, the most disturbing one is still CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST !! Just to think about how many deaths these 'journalists' caused even before the events of C.H. is frightning !!

Way older but also quite interesting is CALTIKI, IL MOSTRO IMMORTALE (1959) by Riccardo Freda and finished my Mario Bava.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 18, 2012 - 9:05 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

To Hercule- Platini- Many people have good resumes and did nothing.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 19, 2012 - 4:07 AM   
 By:   groovemeister   (Member)

Cloverfield was horrible!
I wanted the monster to eat these annoying kids as fast as possible so i could leave the theater.

TBWP frightened the crap out of me. Still to be topped

 
You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
© 2014 Film Score Monthly. All Rights Reserved.