The first found footage film is said to be the 1980’s Cannibal Holocaust. A movie that so many people thought was real that they had the director taken into custody and questioned. In 1999 we got The Blair Witch Project. Another movie that, at first, people thought was real. The movie inspired many filmmakers and became one of the most successful independent films of all time. If Blair Witch was an inspiration then Paranormal Activity was a trendsetter. The movie was cheap to make and highly profitable. For the next couple of years, found footage was everywhere. Great ones followed such as REC and Cloverfield. Unfortunately, though, the majority of the films released were not very good and people started to get tired of the tropes. Found footage became just a cheap gimmick. But there were gems in the bunch that some may have overlooked or simply forgotten about. These are 6 underrated found footage films.
1. Lake Mungo
Alice drowns and her family starts experiencing supernatural events shortly after. This leads them to believe Alice was possibly living a double life.
Lake Mungo is simply a great horror film that not many have seen. The movie comes off as an eerie mockumentary about a grieving family trying to understand what happened to their daughter. There is a true feeling of dread throughout along with images that will last with you. There are constant twists and turns and every time you think you know where this movie is going, another layer unfolds. Not only a great horror film but an emotional tale of life after death.
A group of friends on a zoom call accidentally invite a demonic presence and things go very wrong.
There have been movies that take place 100% on a computer screen. A famous example is Unfriended. This to me blows it out of the water. Released in 2020 during the pandemic, director Rob Savage used every trick that he had to deliver a scary fast-paced movie about quarantine. There is a lot to appreciate here. It is filled with clever scares, great use of negative space, and 57-minute runtime. Host is a scary fun time.
3. The Poughkeepsie Tapes
New York investigators discover hundreds of tapes in the house of a serial killer depicting kidnapping, torture, and murder.
This is one of the most disturbing horror films I have ever seen. Visiting the town of Poughkeepsie on many occasions did not ease my mind when viewing this movie either. Originally meant to have a theatrical release in 2008, the movie was shelved until 2014 when it was released briefly on video on demand. It finally was released on DVD and Blu-Ray in 2017.
The movie is insanely creepy showing interviews mixed with footage of the tapes. On each video is something that makes us feel like we shouldn’t be watching it. There are depictions of torture, kidnapping, and voyeurism much of which is shown from the killer’s perspective. What makes it scary is a lot of the murder and stalking scenes seem all too real. Not for everyone but definitely one of the best that found footage has to offer.
Three teens discover a strange substance that gives them powers. They record and test out their newfound powers but sometimes too much power has consequences.
The only found footage film on this list that is not a horror. This is a well-made superhero thriller. The effects are well done and the acting throughout is really good. It also is a very interesting idea. A lot of us have wondered at one point or another what it would be like to have superhero powers. The truth is though that there is a big possibility that with things we deal with in our lives, we could easily become a villain. The movie was received well but seems to not be talked about much these days. It definitely deserves to be.
5. Grave Encounters
A group of paranormal investigators from a television show spend the night in a haunted asylum in what turns out to be their final episode.
This is a fun one. It makes fun of those ghost-hunter shows and is pretty self-aware. Low budget but the scares are very effective. The asylum setting is great as we see the many ghosts of patients and doctors. It is definitely spooky and has some great creature design. The movie has so much energy and is a fun satisfying haunted house movie.
6. The Taking of Deborah Logan
A college student is doing a thesis on Alzheimer’s disease with Deborah Logan as the subject. As days go by we start to wonder if in fact Deborah has the disease or is there something more sinister is going on.
This movie is interesting for multiple reasons. It is already scary when someone is going through a disease like Alzheimer’s. Throw in some supernatural elements and some great performances and you have a movie worth seeing. Adam Robitel who would later direct the Escape Room movies makes his debut here. Soap opera actress Jill Larson gives a sympathetic yet haunting performance as Deborah as we see her little by little start to deteriorate.
Are you a fan of found footage movies? What are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below.