Posts Tagged ‘The Blair Witch Project’

Hand-held Horror: Beyond the Blair Witch

August 16, 2011

Fancy yourself as the next big horror movie director? Of course you do. Well, you’re in luck! Forget forking out for a fancy camera and a couple of years at filmmaking school. Hell, don’t even bother hiring any actors, ‘cause all you need to scare kids these days is a hand-held camera and a few willing participants to run around a dark forest/college campus/backyard squealing. Add a couple close-ups of scary looking shadows and the tagline ‘…and five years later, the footage was found…’ and BAM you’ve got yourself a horror movie.

Remember this?

It’s been nearly 13 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the horror movie circuit by adding a new level of realism using low quality cameras. We’ve all seen it, and although you probably remember crapping your pants, you might not remember that we never actually SEE anything truly terrifying: the image of the Blair Witch remains a mystery and the terror is created wholly through suspense. Poor Blair Witch never got her 15 minutes of fame, but The Blair Witch Project itself got a whole lot more than that, paving the way for hand-held horror. Awesome Art takes a look at some of these ‘found footage’ films.

Evil Things (DVD release in 2011)

The latest installment to the club, Evil Things, is an independent horror movie about a bunch of college students who go away to some desolate snowy location for a 21st birthday party, and as you know a gang of college buddies isn’t a gang of college buddies without an aspiring filmmaker, so they bring along a video camera to document the super fun times. WHEN WILL KIDS LEARN THAT THIS WILL NOT END WELL!? Or should I say, when will writers start racking their brains a little more for new ideas, hmmmm?

Cameras are everywhere, ya know!

Predictable set up aside, it is described as a ‘nightmarish descent into psychological terror’ with a ‘bone-chilling’ conclusion. Those dopey kids certainly spend a lot of time running away from something… but just what the hell are they running from!?


Is it ghosties? Mutated woodland creatures? Axe-wielding psychopathic ex-lovers? You’ll just have to watch and find out for yourself. Relatively positive reviews have upped the film’s credentials while its website is also pretty good at keeping in character, and you can watch video testimonials from ‘friends’ and ‘families’ of the missing kids. But can it rival the Blair Witch? Check it out for yourselves.

Cloverfield (2008)

Cloverfield is hand-held horror with a difference. First of all, there are no screaming college students (well, maybe there’s a few in there somewhere), no woods and certainly no ghosties. Second of all, Cloverfield takes matters out of the usual horror setting of ‘nameless hick-town’ and into the big bad city.

Essentially, Cloverfield is a cinematic apocalyptic vision, added to a long list that includes The Road and 28 Days Later, only with a giant monster instead of an unidentified virus and a hand-held camera that is needed in order to make any aspect of this over-the-top movie seem ‘real’. Without the clever camerawork Cloverfield would have been a monster flop FO’ SHO.

Bright lights, big... creature?

Paranormal Activity (2007)

Otherwise known as The Exorcist for the digital generation. The reason Paranormal Activity generated so much hype is simply because it taps into a fear that everyone has: what happens when you sleep? Paranormal Activity knows. But do you? It’s quiz time, kids!

So, just what DOES happen when you snooze?

a) Do helpful little elves burrow into your bedroom and mend the holes in your work boots?

b) Do your toys come to life and have a rockin’ luau at Barbie and Ken’s new pad?


Answers on a postcard, please.

Please tell me that's just an elf...

Paranormal Activity intensifies this fear that we all possess by tricking viewers into thinking that they’re watching a true story, and then takes the next step in spooking by making us jump. A lot. There are long, drawn out moments where nothing happens… nothing happens… you start to get bored… and then BAM SOMETHING MOVES! And that’s it. For now. It continues to build until the final scene, which will make you shit yourself, no matter which alternative ending you choose to subject yourself to. And that’s essentially what you want from a good horror film, innit!?

Oh yeah, and then there’s this.

I watched this once. All the way through. I think I might have kind of liked it. Yeesh.

What are  your favourite ‘found-footage’ films?