Thursday, 9 February 2012

Scraping the Bottom of the Found Footage Barrel

In my attempts to watch every found footage horror ever made, I have started to really stare down into the deep, dark abyss of straight-to-dvd clag.  Hopefully there will come a point where I can stop this masochistic punishment as sometimes it feels like I'm battering my own head with a video camera and then forcing myself to watch it back like some extreme form of happy slapping.

On the bright side, I think in January I've gotten through the worst and in February I can take pleasure in recent success stories Apollo 18 and The Troll Hunter.

But for now here's a round up of the found footage horrors I watched last month:

The St. Francisville Experiment (Ted Nicolaou, 2000)
Notable for being the first I’ve seen where (SPOILER) the characters with cameras actually survive.  Other than that, adds very little to the sub-genre.  Stuck in a house where past atrocities took place, the completely unmemorable characters are terrorized by spooky goings-on that aren’t that scary.  

Monster (Erik Estenberg, 2007)

Worst film I watched this month and for that matter, in quite a long time.  I hate to criticise but I can't believe that much effort actually went into this one at all.  Dreadful, penniless attempt to re-create Cloverfields’ thrills with no budget, even less story, passable acting and virtually no effects shots.  Something attacks Japan and two documentary makers stumble about the city not really filming anything of any importance or significance until they finally bumble into an anti-climactic ending.

Evil Things (Dominic Perez, 2009)

Students go to a house in the middle of nowhere for a birthday bash but are followed by a mysterious van.  This one actually has some creepy moments and features a nice addition to the sub-genre in that the killer is also using a camera to capture the events from his own perspective.  The character with camera antics feel very real and natural and the unseen menace provides plenty of suspense.  It’s always good when you actually want the characters to survive and not just get killed so all the bloody screaming and shaky camera will stop.

Paranormal Entity 2 (Anthony Fankhauser, 2010)

Apart from the unnecessary tits and limited acting abilities of some of the cast, this sequel from the cheapo rip-off studio Asylum is pretty good.  When a ghost-hunting TV crew set up their cameras in the house of infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy, they capture everything they hoped for and more.  Like with the Paranormal Activity films, a little special effects go a long way and the use of multiple cameras in this film keep the action interesting and eliminate the need for characters to keep justifying their continuing filming.  The use of a thermal camera adds thrills and the inclusion of Gacy as the ghostly presence adds a real sense of menace to proceedings.  Recommended for found footage fans (if there are any left).

Best of the bunch: Evil Things and Paranormal Entity 2.  DISCLAIMER: That's not a recommendation, just an observation.  Has anyone else seen any of these?