Geek Confessional: I’m a Found Footage Junkie

My last three outings in the Confessional were all about my half-witted attempts at writing movies, so I figured it might not be a bad idea to follow up with a movie-related confession. There’s a certain style that’s emerged in recent years that I really enjoy even though most people don’t.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a weakness for found footage films.

I know, the herky-jerky camera motion can make people nauseous. And there’s usually a ridiculous explanation as to why the characters are documenting every single moment of their lives. But for whatever reason, I just love them. It’s even enough to get me to cross a genre-line that I usually don’t.

See, normally, I want nothing to do with horror movies. I don’t like the gore and I’m not a fan of being scared. But I’m willing to watch them if it’s a found footage movie. I have no idea why that is, especially given what happened with the first found footage movie I ever saw.

I remember it well: The Blair Witch Project.

Blair Witch ProjectFor those of you who have blocked this memory out of your minds, let me get you caught up: this movie was supposedly a documentary made by three film students about an urban legend. These three kids went into woods, spooky stuff happened while they were camping, and they wound up fleeing into an abandoned house where…well, I think they all got killed. Hard to say.

Looking back on it, it wasn’t all that frightening. But here’s what got me: this was a great example of a viral marketing campaign that worked. The folks behind it pretended like this was a real thing, like this really happened. There was a website that was supposedly put together by the missing students’ families. They played this straight for months, like this was actual footage that was found in the woods.

Now I had a pretty good idea that none of that was true. But the night I watched the movie, the doubt was enough to freak me out. Let me put it to you this way: the end of the movie takes place in a basement. That’s where the characters met their off-screen grisly fates. Well, when I got home from the movie, I had to do my laundry, which was all in the basement of my house. And I didn’t want to go down there. I remember running into the basement to change stuff over as quickly as possible. Stupid, right?

But that was just the beginning. Once they started coming more regularly, I made sure to see them. Paranormal Activity? Seen them all (except I haven’t gotten around to the last one yet). Cloverfield? Not too bad. And it’s not just the horror movies either. Chronicle, Almanac, Earth to Echo, I’ve enjoyed them all.

But there’s one that really stood out of the bunch: Trollhunter. Seriously. You need to see this movie. It is so good and clever and wonderful. Just see it. It’s on Netflix.

I love this genre so much that I even tried making my own found footage film. Except I didn’t put it to film. I wrote about what it would be about on my blog. And eventually, I gave up on it because I realized, I really don’t know how to write movies. I think we established that already. But if you’re curious about what I came up with, you can check it out. It’s still on my blog. Check it out if you want.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I just learned that they’re actually releasing another Blair Witch sequel. For reals, even. I think I need to start planning a new movie night.

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