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Monday, October 28, 2013

A Night of Horror with The Vern: The Found Footage Follies.


As all good horror fans know, the main thing we love about the genre is that there are so many sub genres for us to enjoy.  If slasher movies are not your thing.  You may find that a good creature feature is .  A lot of my friends will not watch horror movies with me unless it's a horror comedy, and if they do happen to watch one that is a bit more serious.  I have to be careful and not recommend anything too harsh.   The fact that there is a lot to see with in the genre makes it one of my favorite.  One sub genre that I have a love hate relationship with is the found footage ones.  When done right, they can be very scary, but when done wrong.  They can feel like nothing more than a wasted cash grab.


"The Blair Witch Project" was one of the first entries in this sub genre where the mainstream audience(including me) got a whim of it's intention.  I know ones like "Cannibal Holocaust" and "Man Bites Dog" came out first. But "Blair Witch" stood out because it was  average people using just a simple video camera, and nothing more. The idea of these three students going out to shoot a video about a supposed ghost legend and actually disappearing at the time was scary for me.  There was no real actors, and I remember seeing websites dedicated to the mythology of the witch and seeing interviews with real town folks.  It felt authentic, like it really happened.  At least until I started seeing interviews with the cast promoting the movie.  Still it was a great marketing move and it started out a whole new sub genre.

 As much as I want the franchise to die.  I found the first "Paranormal Activity" to be a great ride.  I appreciated the way it took it's time in letting us get to know these characters and build up the suspense.  There were moments in it that that made me jump, and the fact that there was no conclusion made it that much scarier.  The later ones try to add more to the mythology and include one of the character's other siblings, but in doing so. It just felt fake. Yes, the first one was fake too, but the way it was presented and the way the story played out. I just bought into it more then I did the later ones. The sequels over used the jump scare premise by showing you a stand still image for several minutes and then all of a sudden. Things start moving all around really fast.  It's a really cheap gimmick, but it works for them.  They have made four of these so far, with a fifth one being released soon.

 The two best entries in this genre for me was "The Last Exorcism" and The "V/H/S" series.  In "The Last Exorcism"  We are introduced to a priest who performs magic tricks to make people believe that he is performing actual exorcisms.  When he meets a young girl who actually is possessed he'll find out just how much his faith will work for him.  I like the idea of the movie showing you how an effect is done. But then show you later the same effect and treat it like it was real.  That and I also believe what was happening to these characters was real.(Just ignore the ending) The "V/H/S" films are just a great horror anthology series and we don't get too many of those too often.  In each movie someone discovers a room of old VHS tapes and watches them.  Each tape is a different short film, but all done in the same found footage format. Sometimes it can be quite  funny and other times it can be just down right twisted.  I had a good time with the last story of the first film.  Which involved a group of guys going into a house they thought was pretending to be haunted,.  Only to find out that it actually was haunted.  The story about the crew filming the religious cult in "V/H/S/2" was down right one of the most bat shit things I have ever seen.  It just goes crazy in ways I can't begin to describe.

 Recently I watched Barry Levinson's  "The Bay" and although I had some issues with the main character.  I thought the concept alone was incredibly scary.  A small town becomes invaded with a species who invades a host from the inside of it's body.  That's right, it eats it's way out of you.  But very slowly because they are so small.  This too was done in the same style but it incorperates other elements to give you more angles and coverage.  What I liked best about this is that it didn't rely too much on CGI. You can do more with just practical effects and good acting then just rely on computers   You want the viewer to belive that these events could happen because you're filming them on a simple machine that anyone could buy.  When you start adding in things that can only be done in post.  Your ruining the illusion for me and I'm sure many others. I would still like to see more movies with in this genre, but it needs to backoff  for a few years.  I think Hollywood has been sucking on this genre's tit for a bit too long, and it's starting to run bone dry.

I will be back in a few days with another night of horror.  Until then have fun boos and ghouls.

27 comments:

  1. The Bay really renewed my faith in found footage. It's easily one of my favorites from last year. Maybe the trick is to put the project in the hands of a veteran director was doesn't specialize in genre movies (Barry Levinson) and is using the found footage conceit because it's germane to the story he wants to tell, not because it's cheap and easy. If you've not seen them, both [Rec] and [Rec]2 make very effective use of the conceit, as well.

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    1. How could I forget to mention Rec. I even reviewed the first one on this site, and I really liked it. I do agree with your thoughts about letting vetern directors tackle the genre. Thanks for the comment

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  2. I also have a love/hate relationship with the found footage sub-genre. I agree that it can be very effective when done right (such as [Rec]), but more often than not, seems overly contrived. Sounds like The Bay is worth checking out.

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    1. The Bay is on Netflix Streaming, Barry. I suggest checking it out. I also suggest any readers out there to click on your name and visit your awesome site as well. Thanks for the message.

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  3. You've reminded me how effective the first Paranormal Activity was.Very well-done, got my heart racing, that's for sure. Better than I imagined it would be. The key is to see it in the dark and also in one sitting.

    Funny you should mention Man Bites Dog (1992) , I recently saw that, and while the title isn't exactly appealing, the film is interesting.

    C Holocaust I turned off after 20 min, when the guy started torturing an animal. Horrible.

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  4. Thank you Chris. Yeah Man Bites Dog does have somne interesting elements to it. C Holocaust is one I have little or no interest in seeing. Thanks for the comment

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  5. I loved The Blair Witch Project. I don't care what critics say, the leading actress gave a flawless performance (I 100% believed in her fear). First time I saw Paranormal Activity, I was underwhelmed. The second one was disappointing. The third one scared the shit out of me. The fourth one made me lose hope in the found footage genre. Weird, huh? As for The Bay, it sounds interesting enough. I'll check it out :) Thanks Vern.

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    1. Thank you for reading Ben I really appreciate the feedback. Yeah Blair Witch Project was freaky seeing it in theaters. I agree the Paranormal series was on the right track with the third one, then they messed it up with the fourth one.

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