Think back to a few years ago and found-footage horror movies were cool, thanks in no small part to the success of the Blair Witch Project (we’ll pretend that the sequels don’t exist). Ever since then, more and more movies of this type have been made because they are cheap to make and easy to produce. With the advent of streaming services these days negating the need to press to a disc and sell, even distribution is cheap and easy.
The big drawcard for these types of movies is that they are cheap to make. Literally all you need is a video camera and a microphone. Are you shit at editing? That doesn’t matter because its supposed to look amatureish. The number of negative things about found-footage movies vastly outweigh the positives though.
Terrible camera work
Bad camera work brings an element of realism to found footage movies, after all, they’re supposed to have been filmed by some idiot with a handheld video camera. That doesn’t remove the fact that after a short viewing time you end up feeling like you’ve just sat through a handheld video shot by Michael J Fox on the worlds worst roller coaster.
Oh, and the shaky, blurry and often poorly executed action scenes are generally out of focus, out of shot and confusing.
Thanks to the combination of extended shots, jump cuts and other amateurish editing techniques, you need literally zero skill in editing to put one of these iMovies together.
Whilst jump cuts, camera glitches and fake dead batteries are all great tricks for the people making the movies to cover up a change in scene, all viewers see is artistry being forgotten for convenience and sake of the story.
And I don;t know where they buy their cameras from but never in my entire life have I experienced any of these glitches whilst filming something.
Characters in horror movies tend to make stupid decisions. After all, if they just left and went home it wouldn’t be a very interesting movie would it?
On top of the general stupidity of the characters, It becomes jarringly obvious that you aren’t watching found footage when you question why on earth somebody would pick the camera up off the floor and film something chasing them down a corridor instead of leaving everything behind and hauling ass out of there.
The only things the characters are good at, besides making stupid life choices, is switching the camera on at key points in the story to make sure its recorded.
Unless its done really well, which it generally isn’t, it’s difficult for viewers to relate to the main character because they are behind the camera for the majority of the time. There’s a reason that the cameraman isn’t a character in most TV shows.
Characters are throwaway and are there only to move the plot forward, you don’t care about them and lets be honest, you just want to see them die in a gruesome way anyway. I’d don’t expect George R.R. Martin levels of character development but I at least want to relate to them in some way.
The advantage of using no-name actors in found-footage movies is that it adds to the realism that you’re watching something filmed by random people during some horrific event. Couple this with a limited budget and you’ll find that these movies often feature no name actors who might be better suited honing their skills in a local church theater group before hitting the big screen.
Stupid jump scares
Jump scares are a fixture in horror movies and a good jump scare is part of the fun of watching them. Even so, found-footage horror movies tend to include at least one stupid jump scare whether its a character in a stupid mask or something falling over. It’s obvious and its stupid.
Then there’s the music, or lack thereof. You see having music in a found-footage movie would just be silly because the whole point is that the footage is as you would find on a home video camera. Or in other words, lazy ass film-making.
When you remove the artistic aspect of film-making, you remove a lot of what makes a film good. Unfortunately, that’s also what generally makes found-footage movies bad.