Horror: It’s gore, it’s slasher, it’s vampires. The genre has produced some the classics of our generation and before, such as Ring, Psycho or The Shining, but one subcategory that forces creativity from its creators needs some more attention. That middle child of cinema is found footage.

I have here a list of five classic found footage films that still influence horror movies to this day:


The Blair Witch Project (1999)

This film is generally considered to have popularised the genre to modern cinema. This psychological horror is a low budget film where the actors really filmed their experiences. It shows footage of three film students lost in the woods of Maryland, who have since disappeared. The audience never see the Blair Witch, but the suspense is enough to get your heart racing faster than CrossFit. It has an equally interesting development story; I’d recommend giving the Wikipedia page a good read.


REC (2007)

It’s been a while, but REC is the zombie movie that is actually scary. A TV crew are filming firefighters in a ‘night in the life of’’ series, only to be quarantined in an apartment building where the inhabitants are knocked off one by one. The film is presented in real time and has you flinching at every dark patch and corner. The Spanish original led to three sequels and an American remake called Quarinte (2008).


Paranormal Activity (2007)

The most famous in the list, Paranormal Activity was a cultural icon. The film shows a couple being haunted after moving into their new home. The footage is almost always still, using security home footage to instil believability. I must say the franchise went further than they needed to, with a total of six sequels and spinoffs, but when the first Paranormal Activity came out its influence was undeniable. Endless spoofs flooded YouTube; a parody even made an appearance at the 82nd Academy Awards.


The Sacrament (2013)

By the far the highest quality of the list, The Sacrament steers away from the rustic path its predecessors travelled down and showcases its footage like any other documentary. Vice journalists enter a religious commune in search of a recovering sister. The Sacrament builds suspense by emphasising the sinister roles of the characters and the darkness below the beautiful exterior. Inspired by a real life massacre, the film does not shy away from gore and its nightmarish roots.   


Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

This one follows a documentary film crew in the Amazon exploring cannibal tribes. Cannibal Holocaust is the grandaddy of found footage; this film is considered the revolutionary force behind the genre. That’s why it features here, but TRIGGER WARNING: This movie is not for the faint hearted. Upon its release, Cannibal Holocaust was banned in multiple countries and some continue banning it to this day.


This list is a lead up to Horror, a nightmare on stage as part of the Auckland Arts Festival. Get your tickets here!