Should Found Footage Stop?

We see these films everywhere, but are they overstaying their welcome? Should Found Footage movies stop?

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About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.


  1. I thought Unfriended was perfectly entertaining, but much more as a goofy, gimmicky exploitation film than a serious horror movie. It wasn’t scary, but the buildups were well-paced, the visual gimmicks worked, and it wrapped itself around the themes of “cyberbullying” and “teens as oblivious, self-justifying jerks” really well. It’s just that the payoffs weren’t very scary (including a totally gratuitous ending jump scare that could have and should have been cut) and the juggling of the realistic and supernatural doesn’t always work. Not great, but I’m glad I saw it. Admittedly, I watched it on my laptop which REALLY added to the meta-satirical fun of the experience. I might have been harder on it if I’d seen it in a theater.

    There’s a superb ‘found footage’ movie on Netflix right now called “Creep”. It uses the conceit of the cameraman unbelievably well, it builds up a really tense and unnerving atmosphere, and all the tension and scares center around the two main characters, their personalities, and their relationship. I don’t want to give too much away. Just definitely check out “Creep” if you want another good example of the way the found-footage concept can enhance a story when done right.

  2. The Found Footage movie that got me was VHS, the first 2 (Not the shitty third one) cos they did something a lot of the other films didn’t do. They explained why the camera isn’t put down when the horror happens. In one short, the camera is part of a giant costume the main character is wearing for halloween so we can go with it, in another it’s attached to a pervs glasses and even gives a great shot of his POV during his death. There’s the zombie with a go pro strapped to his head or my personal favourite, the guy who went through a science experiment and had his eye fitted with a camera which also allows him to see ghosts. Sure not all the shorts work and it’s weird that digital footage is on an obsolete medium like a VHS tape, but the fact that they actually give a reason for the camera to keep rolling even when most sensible people would stop it is pretty ingenius. It’s one of the few found footage movies I can watch and enjoy without being distracted by the shaky cam

  3. I think that the subgenre itself is still valid. But the way it’s used needs to be shaken up — by now it’s been paralyzed by tropes and trappings instead of finding new ways of using the medium.

    For instance, while I don’t think M. Night Shyamalan will be giving huge changes to found footage movies, he bucked the predictable trend of “everyone involved in this is dead.”

  4. I haven’t seen a ton of these, but I did recently enjoy Digging up the Marrow, based on a recommendation from a reviewer here. I liked the idea of the filmmaker starting out thinking he could make a documentary about this crazy guy who believes in monsters, and you get some pretty creative creature effects.

  5. I was surprised you kept including clips from “Chronicle” in this video.

    yes, it’s a found footage movie, but it’s NOT a horror movie. it’s more of a super hero origin story. like if Marvel or DC decided to make a found footage film.

  6. One thing that bugs me about Doug’s editorials is that they never seem to offer a substantial opinion or something. A question is posed, good and bad examples are demonstrated and then an ambiguous conclusion is reached which more often then answers the initial question with “yeah it’s fine… if done properly”. Well, duh.

    I kinda prefer when critics, well.. critique. 😛

  7. I find it interesting that you spliced in footage from Chronicle… both because it’s about the only found-footage movie I legitimately like, and because it’s not really horror, so it was a little out of place to bring it in when talking specifically about found footage Horror films, which are admittedly the theme that dominates that subgenre, but “scares” aren’t exactly what Chronicle was going for… and you didn’t even mention the movie at all despite using footage of it, and despite it offering ample things to talk about, non-horror found-footage for example. That’s poor form Doug.

    Also, Unfriended is a movie that I haven’t seen… but most people I find credible seem to dislike it quite intensely, it’s far from the first to do the “damn kids today” low-hanging fruit of moaning about social media. Hell, presenting the teen protagonists as horrible people is a trope that goes waaaaaaaay back into some of the earliest slashers, I was quite bemused to see you thinking that is something Unfriended does differently. This isn’t social commentary at this point, it’s lazy tropes and stereotypes so the audience gets catharsis out of the deaths of the characters, and even that is wearing mightily thin.

    Also The Visit just looks incredibly dumb and painful from everything I’ve seen and heard.

  8. Anyone looking for a good found footage show should check out The River. It unfortunately only lasted one season, but it was brilliant.

  9. Oh my god, stop saying the Visit was good, it was shit.

  10. You are overstating things…The Visit barely hovers over “rotten” (and might end up in this area eventually)

  11. I think “found footage” style get off because of their pseudo-realism attitude that it REALLY happened. Remember promo posters for Blair Witch Project? They were designed as “these people went missing, have you seen them?” kind of posters. Director of Cannibal Holocaust had been arrested because people genuinely thought that he REALLY killed off his cast members in the film. FF was kinda of glorious visual urban legends, stuff that COULD been for real, if you wanted to believe it. But then they gained actual popularity, started filming in Hollywood and advertising as normal films, just like any other work of fiction. That’s when this genre shoot itself in the leg.
    Now-days, like delusional maniac, it says “it’s a movie!” and “it was a real event!” at the same time. Which cannot work.

  12. I don’t think it should stop tout court, but it sure shouldn’t be used as much as it is now. But like torture porn, it will get redimensioned eventually.

  13. I would say that the problem lies a bit more with another problem with this genre: We know the ending. If its Found Fotage, then its very clear that the ones who made it was not the ones who Found it, So we know that thise people must be pritty much gone by now. So it sorta spoils the ending.

  14. A new one seriously the previous once were never scary or good NEVER
    All of these movies are crap the Blare Witch made it very good but it was not scary or that good ether
    The Super powered kids movie is good

  15. Surprised that you did not mention the original form of the style – the epistolary novel – most famously used in the original dracula novel that is in as much of a found-footage style as most of the genre’s films.

  16. I haven’t watched a found footage movie since Blair Witch… and I honestly don’t feel like I’m missing much.
    Blair Witch was the most bori– one of the most boring movies I ever had the displeasure of sitting through. Didn’t see it in the threaters, though, only on VHS.
    I remember someone in my high school tech class putting it on after fixing a TV and I just groaned and walked away. He asked if I was too scared in a sort of mocking tone. I looked him straight in the eye and said, “No. The movie is just awful.” Oddly enough, he didn’t respond. Kind of expected him to.

    My dad, though. Oh man.. watching this movie with my dad was hilarious. At one of the points with them traipsing around the forest and getting lost, he just started yelling at the screen and calling them all fucking idiots and how the movie was the biggest piece of shit. I was literally in tears from laughing so hard.

    All of that said… I won’t knock anyone who likes the genre. Blair Witch just left such a bad taste in my mouth that I can’t really see the appeal of it. Has it overstayed its welcome, though? Probably not. It doesn’t make me mad or annoyed or anything when I hear of a new one coming out.
    All of the remakes though… yea, those get to me every time I hear about one.

  17. hmm, how about a found footage film, that is set in a sci-fi setting
    and is not actually found footage at all
    Its all set from the cybernetic eyes (literally as wed be following the recorded feed) of some sort of soldier or other augmented person as they dealth with some sort of chaotic problem, possibly of the paranormal kind
    possibly involving demons
    possibly on mars…

    Ok, I just want a doom film entirely in the first person liek that one amazing bit of the crappy Doom film that already exists.

  18. I still say.
    The reason Paranormal activity was a success is becaute the only opion at thr time was Avatar that everybody already watched, A Christmas Carol with Jim Carey and the fairy tooth with The Rock.
    If anyone remember was the only thing we had.
    Also is the same reason Avatar made so many money, today a movir can stay five weeks because a new one was released.

  19. Nice video, but the jumpscare at the end wasn’t really neccessary

  20. The only found footage movies i’ve seen are Blair Witch and Cloverfield, and they both sucked.

  21. I would like to clarify that my sister is 21 and she still can’t handle her boyfriend bringing her to the Paranormal Activity series. There is, no matter how much you hate it, a heavy following to popular yet despised gimmicks. There are other people, like my sister, who somehow want to be scared by the same shtick. It’s like in English class when I read “The Lovely Bones” I thought it was a greatly written story with wonderful concepts. The feelings and atmosphere of the characters felt real. I found out there was a movie by Peter Jackson, and I salivated. But what did I get? “Oh yeah, with the success of Twilight, let’s, on behalf of ALL Hollywood YA adaptions, let’s make it dopey, teenage beat, lifeless, and “oh so artsy” so we can hop on Twilight’s big success” Ya, if there is a Hollywood trope of doing the EXACT SAME THING ʷᶦᵗʰ ᶫᶦᵗᵗᶫᵉ ʳᵉˢᵘᶫᵗˢ ᵈᶦᶠᶠᵉʳᶦᶰᵍ ᵈᵉᵖᵉᶰᵈᶦᶰᵍ ᵒᶰ ᶦᶰᵈᵉᵖᵉᶰᵈᵉᶰᵗ ᵛᶦᵉʷᵖᵒᶦᶰᵗˢ ᶠʳᵒᵐ ᵗʰᵉ ᵈᶦʳᵉᶜᵗᵒʳ I myself get tired of it. Oh, and Doug, I found out RottenTomatoes gave Labyrinth, ████ing Labyrinth one of my ABSOLUTE favorite Halloween movies a 66%. You HAVE to do an editorial “Should we always trust the RottenTamatoes score” also, in light of popular recent events, Randy Quiad’s in trouble right now, and now is the time Critic….. DO CHRISTMAS VACATION 2: COUSIN EDDIE’S ISLAND ADVENTURE and get that stinker out there so that EVERYBODY suffers like I did. When I didn’t watch it. I’m warning you, it’s BAD…. this Christmas…. Nostalgia Critic reviews….. CHRISTMAS VACATION 2. (Speaking of RottenTomatoes, if you look this one up there isn;t even a score)

  22. The found footage genre makes me think of all the books out there that are basically someone’s diary. You know the ones. The ones that start every chapter with a date or something. It’s basically the film version of that……. either way, they both annoy me.

  23. hey the last exorcist ending is not bullshit .. its actually makes a lot of sense

  24. The one thing that comes to mind before the Blair Witch Project is that tv alien abduction mockumentary. Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County which was larger budget project compared to it’s predecessor UFO Abduction (The McPherson Tape) that introduced me to this genre.

  25. Love Calluna’s name. I hope she’s Calluna World-ruler or Calluna Earth Princess.

  26. So, found footage ha? We got horror, we got thrillers, and obviously, we are talking a lot about jump scares and that kind of stuff. So, what did Chronicle had to do with all this?
    Yeah, it is found footage, but it’s not a thriller, it’s not horror, it’s a social commentary or an action movie, superhero at best! NC didn’t make any points about Chronicle, not while talking about jump scares. Yeah, he spoke about how much us the viewers can feel for the movie if it’s presented from our point of view, but again, he used that to say how things we see under certain circumstances can seem scarier when you see them from close up and that this works like a trick.
    Again, Chronicle is not a thriller, not a horror movie. The found footage in chronicle does not work as a scare tactic, but as an ingenious way of hiding the effects and watching the life of our heroes, the ups and the downs, the progression of their psychosis and character. That been said, Chronicle had nothing to do with this editorial, especially beacause in no point NC included it’s genre and unique position in comparison with the horror movies he was taking about.
    P.S.: That argument about “who videotapes/records stuff all the time anyway?” is so freaking old by now. It doesn’t hold any water. You just feel that you have already seen every possible way why people would record their everyday lifes. It’s matter of originality in this point, nothing more.

  27. I think that found footage is just simply getting too big. Like Critic said, it’s a genre that thrives on minimalism and everyone seems to be trying to make it bigger and better.

    Where I think it’s actually finding a good home is in a few well shot web series where creative film makers can make something unique and interesting on a budget; and since their stories are “real” they can and do involve their fans in unprecedented ways. I’m speaking about Marble Hornets, which while it got slow and convoluted later on, started out super strong; and more on the interaction side, Everyman Hybrid which started out a little slow but got very good as the series progressed. I know there are more out there but these are the two I’ve watched a lot of.

    Basically I think the genre will do well going smaller and keeping a devoted fanbase that improves upon the idea Blair Witch “started” rather then trying to reinvent the whole thing to get new fans.

  28. Thanks for this. There is a HUGE problem with found footage movies IMO. Especially for the Horror genre which is what they are used for 99.9 percent. They are ruining the horror Genre. Also the last movie I saw in theaters which was “The Visit” I honestly was enraged because the commercials made it look like it was a normal movie. I felt duped into seeing it I was gonna give MNight one last chance I figured it looks interesting but when I relised it was a hand camera documentary found footage bullshit I was Irate I literally felt tricked. I believe they use this medium of Found Footage because it’s cheap and gets a quick return. People say the Paranormal Activity series is good??? Kids today actually like it. It just amazes me what people will consider good and what people today will put up with for the Horror Genre. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, you know, back when Horror was real Horror. I grew up with Child’s play, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Friday the 13, and possibly one of the greatest horror movies ever Hellraiser 1, and 2. It is just disgusting what found footage did to this awesome genre. I am literally irate with found footage.

  29. FOUND FOOTAGE GO AWAY AND NEVER COME BACK. We need new Horror movie franchises. The closest thing we have had since 2000 was the Hatchet Trilogy which was awesome and a good movie. I miss the days of real horror they are so hard to come by now adays and found footage has done this. Hollywood makes them because they are cheap they can use no name actors and they turn a quick profit for little investment its sickening. END OF DISCUSSION. ALSO THE VISIT FUCKING SUCKED DICK. I can’t believe people actually liked it.

  30. The norwegian film Trolljegeren(the Troll Hunter) is a found footage and creature feature parody. It is both very beautiful and hilarious! Check it out:)

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