Five Frightening Found Footage Films You Haven’t Seen

five-found-footage

Although certainly not the first, 1980’s iconic piece Cannibal Holocaust has become a major reference in the sub-genre of “found footage” films. In 1999, The Blair Witch Project really familiarized mainstream audiences with the concept. If you aren’t familiar with the term found footage, you’ve probably been living in a cave or under a staircase or something since film studios have been pumping seemingly dozens of these out for the past five years or so. Typically, a found footage film is set up like an unedited documentary or compilation of footage from an unseen entity/character and you are led to believe that this footage was recovered after the demise of those involved in making it.

After Paranormal Activity’s huge success in 2007, filmmakers and studios alike started jumping on this money train which resulted in some pretty terrible films. However, I am a big fan of this approach to filmmaking and when done right, it can be very original and effective. I’ve compiled a few of my favorite examples that you may have missed out on.

Man Bites Dog

Man Bites Dog is a Belgian film that is a disturbing satire of how liberal media is becoming with violence. The phrase “man bites dog” actually comes from journalism; it essentially means that the unusual is more newsworthy than the ordinary. This film addresses that while it is natural to have a morbid curiosity, how far can you go until it ceases to be healthy? A film crew is following around Ben, a thief and a murderer, and documenting his cruel ways. While it starts out unbiased, the project takes on a much more personal angle when the crew begins getting involved in their subject’s “profession”. Man Bites Dog isn’t a film tightly associated with found footage although it is one of the finest examples. It is hard hitting, gut-wrenching and though-provoking, worthy enough to be featured in the Criterion Collection.

The Poughkeepsie Tapes

The Poughkeepsie Tapes is set up almost like a TV special you would see on the Crime & Investigation Network as half of it consists of interviews with detectives, police officers, medical examiners and various other forensic professionals. The other half is the tapes of a fictional New York-based serial killer who recorded all of his murders. It is a thorough examination of a psychopath, his motives, his weapons, his style and his perversions. It walks that thin line that many do when it comes to serial killers—teetering between fascination and glorification. While the worst of the murderer’s acts are implied, there is still plenty of graphic footage for audiences to get an eyeful of.

THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES has never been released. While we have not embedded the film in this post, the whole film is available on YouTube.

 

Lake Mungo

Lake Mungo comes from Australia and is set up in the mockumentary style, following the death of the Palmer family’s daughter, Alice. Strange events surround her life and the possibility of her afterlife—has Alice come back to haunt her family? Is there something she wants to tell them? Dealing with both the dark side of puberty and adolescence and a family’s grief, Lake Mungo is genuinely spooky and absolutely brilliant. This is a masterpiece of its genre and a must-see.


Dig this list? Check out our monthly column, THE THIRTEEN. We list our favorite thirteen picks about a particular topic.


Noroi (The Curse)

Noroi, which translates to The Curse, is a found footage piece coming from Japan. Everyone is aware that the Japanese know what is fucking scary and this under the radar film is no exception to that expectation. The footage in question was compiled by a journalist named Masafumi Kobayashi (Jin Muraki) who specializes in investigating the paranormal; while he is looking into seemingly unrelated occurrences he begins to find strange and disturbing similarities and patterns in them. Kobayashi soon finds out that he isn’t just dealing with a ghost, but an ancient evil longing to be resurrected. The storyline in this film is complex but is bound to hold your interest. The characters are interesting and well-rounded and the quickly established atmosphere is thick. Japanese filmmakers often incorporate folklore into their stories, and the found footage aspect of this particular film makes it all the more spooky and convincing.

The Bitterroot Footage

Even though “The Bitterroot Footage” isn’t even really a film—I don’t know what it is, nor does anyone else since it popped up about a year ago. If you visit the website, you get a brief story about how this guy scored this little wooden box at an estate sale and inside were two reels of 8mm film and some weird photographs. The video that you can watch on the website is the alleged mysterious reel of recovered film and Jesus Christ is it freaky. In essence it is just a five-minute silent video of some really spooky imagery, but man is it cool! I was hoping it was some sort of publicity stunt for an upcoming film but nothing further has come about. Check it out for yourselves!

Visit the website for more information by clicking here.

So if you haven’t seen any of these films I would make it a priority to watch them. If you are already a fan of found footage, they will only increase your love for the sub-genre; if you aren’t too keen on the concept, these could be the movies to change your mind. If I have forgotten a favorite of yours leave the title in the comments. I’m always trying to watch one of these!


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Author: Marie Robinson View all posts by
Marie Robinson is an aspiring folklore explorer and writer from St. Louis, MO. She has a passion for all things horror and writes reviews and original content for Fascination With Fear & Film-Addict in addition to her contributions here at DTB. Her fiction has been featured in Sanatarium Magazine and several anthologies
  • blackout

    The Poughkeepsie tapes isn’t fictional though. It’s based on a real murderer who was killing prostitutes in the late 90′s. I live 20 minutes from Poughkeepsie I remember when all that happened. As far as him taping the killings I don’t know but the murders did happen

  • John

    You missed Megan is Missing, much creepier version of Lake Mungo.

  • cman

    The Last Broadcast

  • blaffer

    You forgot to mention one crucial thing about ‘Man Bites Dog’ (or ‘C’est arrivé près de chez vous’ as it’s actually called): the film is also absolutely hilarious, mainly thanks to lead actor Benoît Poelvoorde. And just when you think it’s a great comedy everything is turned on its head.

    It was shot by a couple of Belgian buddies with hardly any money and many of the extras and locations in the film are friends and family members. Quite a feat.

  • Jezus

    man bites dog (real name C’est arrivé près de chez vous (it happened near your home/in your neighborhood)) is an absolute classic in France and started the career of the main protagonist (played by Benoît Poelvoorde)
    I wonder how it is in english?

  • Nikki

    This is a fantastic found footage film and the ending will blow your mind.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDZK_ioUXp0

  • Andrew

    I like the idea behind the bitteroot footage with the hair in the bag at the end (or w/e that was). But does anyone else think it was way more creepy because of the added music/ambience and not so much from the video?

  • galofree1632

    You might try Grave Encounters. More in the style of Paranormal Activity but it builds up so well to the horror, and it has a lot of the spiral into insanity subplot in it (probably has NOTHING to do with the fact that the film takes place in an abandoned mental institution)

  • Michael Link

    Poughkeepsie tapes was disturbing – along the same lines is ‘long pigs’. Imho, the best ff movie is ‘grave encounters’..

  • Necrotic-Fleshrot

    I realize they’re nothing but trashy exploitation, but is no one going to mention the August Underground trilogy? That being said there are some great picks here and I think it’s neat to see how this sub-genre has gained some attention. It’s interesting to see how films like Man Bites Dog have inspired some spiritual updates in films like Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon which takes the same timeless premise but set in more modern time.

  • CNewton

    Great article to see some lesser-known films get exposure.

    Lake Mungo is an unheralded masterpiece of this sub-genre. A beautiful, thought-provoking & genuinely creepy film that I find unique for its dealing with grief – or, the aftermath of violent death. This angle is contrary to the order of leading up to & the act of death (killing) that most horror movies focus on. It’s a film best appreciated by experienced horror fans looking for something different.

    I’ve written about ‘found footage’ or the POV/faux documentary sub-genre, & can contribute a few others… Luis Buñuel’s Land without Bread; Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages; The Act of Seeing with One’s Eyes (very graphic); Cannibal Holocaust (brutal classic); Legend of Boggy Creek (freaked me out as a kid!); the Japanese Guinea Pig films (Flower of Flesh & Blood; Mermaid in a Manhole); Ghostwatch (BBC special); The Begotten; Neil Gaiman’s Short Film About John Bolton; Gus Van Sant’s real-world horror Elephant; Open Water; In Memorium; Death of a Ghost Hunter; Cropsey; & of course, Trollhunter.

  • mklmkl

    lake mungo is fucking LAME. sorry.

  • Brandon

    Thanks, Gotta check these out. One thing (unless I don’t so post to say it) Cannibal Holocaust. Ultra violence at it’s worst(or best). made the mistake of watching it twice.

  • thexrayguy

    Try “Trollhunter” sometime.

  • Lucia

    What the fuck?. The Bitterroot Footage is not scary at all. It was so boring, and it looks so fake!. But I will definitely watch Lake Mungo and The Curse!

  • Nick

    I’ve seen three of them and Man bites dog is on my watchlist. Never heard of lake mungo.

    • mtertainment

      Man Bites Dog is an all time favorite. Feels like it’s a forgotten film, and it’s absolutely brilliant.

  • Melissa

    Try Megan is Missing. It’s not a great film but that last 22 minutes or so are intense.

    • Nik

      Yeah, that last 22 is hard to stomach. It actually broke me of watching those kind of flicks. Now that I’m a dad I just can’t handle it. Thumbs up, though.

    • Nova Vegnagun Shuyin

      Yeah, i like Lake Mungo better but Megan is Missing is pretty neat and that last 22 min were intense

    • mj3k

      Yea that movie was dumb as hell until the last 22. I also suggest “Death of a Ghosthunter.”

  • mtertainment

    I have to throw in Christopher Denham’s Home Movie from 2008. Incredibly effective, really creepy little gem.

    • Brandon

      Yeah, Home Movie was great. I love those quote, spiral into insanity, unquote films.

  • Michael Haffner

    It’s nice to see some attention being given to LAKE MUNGO; a film that I think is a quiet and yet subtly creepy portrait of a family dealing with loss. Great picks for some of the others as well. I will have to look into BITTERROOT since I’m not familiar with it.

  • Jerry

    Really cool selection. The Bitterroot film is one of the most surreal and haunting vids of found footage that I’ve seen recently!