5 - 1
At the time, it was the most recent entry in the always tricky “scariest movie of all time” department. Oddly enough, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’s cinematic shell game was always meant to be a multimedia con. There was a no BS website, a lack of available talent for interviews, and early reviews suggesting that this was the first authentic example of a true found footage title ever. In the end, it was just a really good ruse backed up with a slight, sloppy scary movie. The ending is still sensational. The rest of the movie has only grown more grating with age.
One of the lingering controversies in this new subgenre is which came first - The Last Broadcast or The Blair Witch Project. There are similarities between both that are eerily prophetic and some have suggested that the Burkittsville filmmakers caught a festival screening of this similarly styled effort, the rest being multimillion dollar history. Whatever the final version of the truth, this criminally overlooked thriller features a group of public access cable adventurers meeting their fate in a fabled wood. The rest of the narrative tries to unravel the mystery surrounding their death, succeeding in sending shivers up one’s spine in the process.
Producer JJ Abrams pulled off one of the rare creative coups when he began a compelling viral ad campaign to celebrate his gonzo Godzilla update. With Mark Reeves behind the lens and enough shaky cam complaints to make the Blair Witch seem like a dose of Dramamine, this amazing monster movie proved that POV filmmaking didn’t have to lack scope, intensity, or action. In fact, the best part about this movie was the flawless integration of oversized F/X into what was supposed to be a handheld camera capture. Many still complain about the logistics of carrying a camera during such a chaotic circumstance, but the result is something special.
As the last two films on this list, these superb Spanish thrillers show what can be done with the found footage idea. In fact, both are so good it’s hard to pick which is the best. Each one takes an inspired set-up, a perfected follow through, and an attic filled with ghoulish geeks and turns them into a living nightmare of authentic horror movie maneuvers. The first [REC] is the movie all other found footage films pretends to be, a rollicking rollercoaster ride where you never know what’s around the next corner, where anyone can die at any time, and an ending that raises as many questions as it provides answer. Then the sensational sequel came out and added to the macabre mythology. Indeed, there are few regular films as perfectly matched as [REC] and [REC]2. That they also happen to be part of the found footage subgenre makes the accomplishment even more amazing.