10 “Found Footage” Horror Movies That Will Scare The Crap Out Of You

Above (clockwise): Creep, Home Movie, The Taking of Deborah Logan, and Grave Encounters
Above (clockwise): Creep, Home Movie, The Taking of Deborah Logan, and Grave Encounters

Horror is a genre that has a lot of sub-genres. There’s your classic slasher flick, the paranormal haunted house angle, monster movies which could be anything from vampires, to zombies, to aliens, and gory body horror like the Saw franchise. There’s a lot of stuff out there to freak you out if that’s what you’re into, and every sub-genre has its audience. The “found footage” style of film has often been used in documentary and mockumentary genres, but the bare bones style of production has found its way into the horror movie genre.

Somehow it’s a lot creepier to think that what you’re seeing on the screen actually happened. Remember when The Blair Witch Project first came out and everyone thought it was real? That made what happened on the screen even scarier than it might have been if you knew it was really and truly “just a movie”. True stories always have a way of getting under your skin, which is exactly what the horror genre aims to do. Here are some of the best found footage horror movies for those nights you’re in the mood to have nightmares.

Creep

Currently available on Canadian Netflix, Creep is about what people are willing to do for cash, and how being too trusting can put you in some pretty terrifying situations. After coming across an ad on craigslist that offers $1000 for a day of filming, a freelance videographer meets Josef (played by Mark Duplass), a man who claims to be dying of cancer and just wants to leave a video behind for his unborn child. But he becomes increasingly unstable, making it pretty clear that he isn’t exactly what he seems.

The Sinister franchise

The two movies in the Sinister franchise aren’t 100% found footage, but they use the medium in an interesting way that works well with the story. The first film starts out like any typical paranormal horror movie. Family moves into house, family finds something old and mysterious in house, family must find out what it’s all about. In this case, writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) finds a box of home movies that turn out to be snuff films depicting the deaths of families who lived in the house before his. The sequel uses the same mix of found footage, but isn’t near as good as the first film.

The Paranormal Activity franchise

The first Paranormal Activity movie released in 2007 was filmed on a budget of only $15,000 and it follows a couple who set up video cameras in their home to try to figure out what is haunting them. It grossed almost $200 million and has spawned five movies for the franchise. The creepiest thing about the first movie is the tension that builds as you watch what while everyone is asleep and you’re waiting for something to happen. Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension comes out this year just in time for Halloween.

Home Movie

Parents are always videotaping their kids these days in an attempt to capture every milestone on camera to relive when they get older. That’s exactly what the Poe family is doing with twins Jack and Emily, but instead of capturing innocent things like birthday parties, and soccer games, their home movies show just how unstable the twins really are. Turns out the Poe’s have always known their kids were evil and they just want to get it on camera so the world will believe them when something really awful happens.

The Last Exorcism

When a reverend hires a documentary film crew to capture the last exorcism of his career on tape he decides to take the opportunity to admit that he’s never believed in what he’s been doing. But instead he meets Nell, a girl who may or may not be possessed by a demon, and he decides to help her. The topic of exorcisms is perfect for the found footage medium because no one is really sure if demonic possession is real or not. The viral marketing campaign for the movie took the found footage theme even further with a video on Chatroulette of a girl unbuttoning her shirt before turning into a monster.

Grave Encounters

In Grave Encounters a crew from a paranormal reality television show lock themselves in a haunted psychiatric hospital to look for evidence of paranormal activity. Shows about ghost hunters are always accused of being faked, and the characters in this movie clearly don’t expect to find much of anything. But they end up finding a lot more than they ever thought possible, which would make for a great episode, if they could make it out of the hospital alive. Even the posters for this movie could give you nightmares, so proceed with caution.

V/H/S

Instead of a full length movie, V/H/S is an anthology consisting of five short found footage style films. Anthologies always have their good and bad parts, but the creepiest one of them all has got to be the fourth one— The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger which is shot using webcam footage. There is also a V/H/S 2 (the best one according to reviews), and a V/H/S: Viral. Perfect for a horror movie marathon night.

Afflicted

Afflicted is a Canadian horror film that debuted at TIFF in 2013. Two friends are traveling the world and videotaping it for their travel web series when one of them comes down with a strange illness. Eventually they figure out that he has contracted vampirism and they have to find a way to feed him before lack of food turns him into a wild, uncontrollable killer. Even if you think the vampire thing is overdone, Afflicted is worth a watch for its interpretation of vampirism and use of the found footage style.

The Taking of Deborah Logan

If you thought kids were creepy, get ready to be freaked out by elderly people too. What starts out as a documentary film crew working on a project about Alzheimer’s patients quickly turns into something more. Does Deborah Logan have Alzheimer’s or is she possessed? Despite going straight to video, the film got positive reviews, and was called one of the best horror movies of 2014.

The Den

Shown entirely using webcam footage, this oneis about a girl doing research on a video chat website similar to Chatroulette called The Den. At first she just wants to document the different types of people and conversations she has on the site, until she witnesses a girl being murdered. It taps into the paranoia of strangers being able to hack into your webcam and spy on you, and also the fact that you never know who you’re really talking to over the internet.

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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