I spent a good year or so ranting and raving about all of the terrible found footage films crawling out of the cinematic foxhole. And then one day I simply accepted the fact that this is a sub-genre that isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Found footage is here to stay, and believe it or not, it can be a hell of a lot more challenging to create a successfully frightening found footage pic than a more standardized picture. You can’t afford to miss a beat when it comes to these films, and there’s little to no margin for error.
It’s hard to make a great found footage movie. Plain and simple. But below you’ll find five noteworthy efforts released this year. If 2016 can give us five stellar handy-cam movies, there’s no reason to believe the sub-genre is doing anything other than growing into something respectable.
Check out our Top 5 of 2016 list below, and prepare to throw a few flicks into the need to watch queue!
5 Hell House LLC: Very reminiscent of The Houses October Built, Hell House LLC drops viewers into a nightmarish haunted attraction. But it isn’t the gags that visitors have to concern themselves with, it’s the strange, seemingly supernatural occurrences that are of major apprehension. There are some good shots, and the mockumentary approach, though it essentially goes abandoned midway through the film – gave the movie a somewhat unique vibe. It’s not a masterpiece, but Hell House LLC is mighty entertaining.
4 Blair Witch: The biggest problem with Blair Witch is that it feels like every other lost in the woods found footage flick, which is an enormous surprise given the involvement of dream duo, Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett. However, the direct ties to the original film are greatly appreciated and Wingard does manage to give us about 10-times the action offered by its original 1999 predecessor, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t exactly feel special. It is however, a lot of fun, and it lands at number four on this list as a result of some pretty wild action sequences, a successful sequel structure and an awfully revealing finale.
3 JeruZalem: JeruZalem caught a little negativity upon arrival, and that left me scratching my head. We horror nuts tend to piss and moan about a dearth of creativity related to the genre. But JeruZalem gave us that very different movie, and still, viewers found a way to defecate on the picture. Well, I’m not one of those guys, and I’ll tell you right now: JeruZalem felt quite refreshing. The creature designs are damn impressive and for a small indie film, the visuals as a whole look startlingly epic. We’ve never seen a found footage film like this, and that’s all but amazing. The landscape is cluttered with copycat films, but this is definitely not one of them.
2 Be My Cat: A Film For Anne: An ultra-realistic and paralyzing piece of work, Be My Cat: A Film for Anne is all about perverse obsession. One lonely gent feels compelled to make a film in the hopes of attracting Anne Hathaway and her professional skills; he wants her in one of his movies. What he’s willing to do to impress Anne enough to successfully recruit her are the things nightmares are made of. And this nightmare is particularly frightening because writer/director/lead performer Adrian Tofei is creepy as all hell and totally and completely believable. He’ll give you the willies, and that’s a good thing, the bulk of us are extremely desensitized.
1 #Screamers: #Screamers won me over earlier this year, in large part due to the pitch-perfect performances. No lie, as I watched the film, I thought I was witnessing a genuine documentary. That illusion cracks after the first act, but the quality of the performances never wavers. The film features a sublime script and a relatively jarring finale. Interestingly enough, this is one of those profoundly rare films that doesn’t actually require a massive climax to impress, the characters themselves are more than enough to really get behind. #Screamers has been making some successful festival appearances, but hopefully fans will be able to pick up the Blu-ray soon (it looks as though the plan may be to hold out until Halloween of next year to officially reveal the flick to the masses) – this is a must-own.