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Categories: Features

Don’t look now! Or ever! We wade through the darkest depths of the video dungeon so you don’t have to. Here are the five worst Found Footage horror films.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you…

 

The Pyramid

We’ll start of with screenwriter Grégory Levasseur’s 2014 directorial debut (and last credit, of any kind) because it’s so bad that it struggles to even stay within the extremely simple boundaries of the Found Footage genre. Putting aside the horrendous performances, screenwriting and fact that the primary source of horror throughout the film is mummified cats, The Pyramid is so ineffective at even telling its own story that it frequently has to throw in extra shots from non-diegetic cameras just to show the audience what’s happening or add perspective. It’s not just lazy, it defeats the entire point of filming the story in that way. The shooting style adds nothing to the story or the characters and it’s a wonder why it was even included in the first place.

 

The Devil Inside

William Brent Bell’s 2012 exorcism film is real bottom of the barrel stuff, it’s hard to see even people who are into demonic possession being the least bit engaged by it. It’s gained somewhat of a level of infamy for effectively not even bothering to have an ending, barely getting past the 80 minute mark (with credits), and, despite all of this, grossing over $100 million; becoming the spark for Hollywood’s rescheduling of horror films. Over the next few years, studios began to shift their sights from Halloween to January and February, the dead zone of the film calendar, for their new dumping ground of cash grab horror. Oh, and that creepy blind nun who’s the centre of the marketing campaign? She shows up for one shot and does absolutely nothing with the film at all.  

 

Exists

What makes Exists so awful isn’t that it shares an almost identical premise to Bobcat Goldthwait’s excellent Willow Creek, which came out one year beforehand and echoed the impressive simplicity and intensity of grand-daddy Found Footage classic The Blair Witch Project. It’s that it was also directed by one of the same directors as The Blair Witch Project, Eduardo Sanchez. (Whose previous, more traditionally shot, film Lovely Molly made it on to our Top Underrated Horror Films list.) Sanchez not only leaves out the believability and emotion from his previous work, he also completely misses the point that Willow Creek made so eloquently which is: “How do you make a Bigfoot film scary? Simple. Don’t actually show Bigfoot, stupid.” 

 

Megan is Missing

Megan is Missing is not the first to awkwardly frame young people’s relationship with social media for the sake of a ham-fisted cautionary tale, but it certainly is the worst. It’s difficult to know here to begin with such a film. It’s not just that the cinematography is abnormally bad. (A lot of the film’s footage is meant to come from the character’s personal devices, like phones, but the film only uses professional grade cameras so the look and angle are always hilariously off and the actors can’t interact with the camera properly.) But because writer, and director, Michael Goi was the President of the American Society of Cinematographers at the time. Not to mention Goi’s graphic representation of violent sexual fantasies involving underage girls. Creepy for all the wrong reasons.

 

All of the Paranormal Activity Films Except the First One (and even then, kind of)

Oren Peli’s original Found Footage home haunting hit redefined Hollywood’s understanding of what audiences would genuinely go and pay to see at a cinema. It was a marketing coup that dethroned the torture porn champion of the day, the Saw franchise, at Halloween but also seemed to democratize the multiplex; popularising, for a spell, audience reaction promotional footage and campaigning for films to play in your area. It felt like a franchise built on people power and you know what they say, people are idiots. Incredibly cheap to film (relative to return on investment, the first was the most profitable film ever made), slow as hell and utterly nonsensical. Paranormal Activity was Hollywood’s dream and it became our collective nightmare.

 

Mark Birrell

Mark is the editor of The Spread as well as a copywriter, and lifelong cinephile, who received his bachelors in Film and Comparative Literature from the University of London. You can follow him on Twitter @markwbirrell

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Posted on Jun 11, 2018

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