Aren’t we all getting bored of found footage films now? Presenting a movie as real footage recovered from some genuine event was once an innovative technique, but today it’s rare to hear the words “found footage” without being preceded by the phrase “not more fucking…”
In its early forms the found footage movie made sense, because there were real concerns about whether or not they were actually real. This sense of authenticity was aided by the filmmakers; the actors in Cannibal Holocaust, generally considered the first film to use the found footage device, signed contracts which stopped them from appearing in anything for a year after the release of the movie to convince audiences that they really had died. As a result, director Ruggero Deodato was taken to court on murder charges. Similarly, the cast of The Blair Witch Project, the most famous and effective of the found footage sub-genre, were listed as “missing, presumed dead” on IMDb. This was combined with an online marketing campaign which included fake police reports to lend further weight to the truth of the Blair Witch story.
Now, however, we’ve cottoned on, making similar methods by more recent films totally redundant. The Devil Inside, which I admit I’ve not seen – like most people – apparently ends not with a resolution but with directions to a website where you’ll find more information. Presumably fuckyoupayingaudience.com.
That’s the real problem with found footage – it’s too often used to cover up lazy writing (Diary of the Dead) or the total absence of a plot (Paranormal Activity). Of course we don’t need to believe in the reality of a found footage movie; The Blair Witch Project still works, though that’s because it kind of is real. The filmmakers pretty much left the actors in the middle of the woods with a camera and, to use a technical term, scared the shit out of them. So their fear is genuine, and that’s what we buy into. And there are some contemporary found footage films which are effective, such as the Norwegian Trollhunter, which uses the device well and displays more than enough imagination.
It’s this imagination that seems to be lacking from most found footage fare. For every one Trollhunter there’s a thousand Chernobyl Diaries. Filmmakers seem to think a shaky handheld camera and a couple of shots up the nose of its operator are enough to hide their complete lack of ideas. Or in the case of the Jake Gyllenhaal cop movie End of Watch, the unnecessary found footage conceit actually undermines the great performances and likeable characters, basically ruining the film. And don’t get me started on Project X, one of the worst films I’ve ever had the utter misfortune to sit through.
I’ll leave you with my most important argument of all – there’s a [THIS IS ALL THAT WAS FOUND OF THIS BLOG. FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO WWW.GOFUCKYOURSELF.COM]
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