The Found Footage Phenomenon – Documentary Review

Directors: Sarah Appleton and Phillip Escott

Writers: Sarah Appleton and Phillip Escott

Features interviews with: Dean Alioto, Stefan Avlos, James Cullen Bressack, Patrick Brice, Aislinn Clarke, Steven DeGennaro, Ruggero Deodato, Michael Goi

Rating: ★★★

Found footage horror films are some of the scariest films ever made and have remained popular for decades, mainly because they have the ability to feel completely authentic in a way that most horror films simply can’t. Films like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity are held up as some of the best and scariest horror films in recent years. Sarah Appleton and Phillip Escott have created a documentary, The Found Footage Phenomenon, which takes a deep dive into the genre, it’s origins, why it’s remained so popular, and interviews with the people behind some of the classic films.

If you’re a big horror fan, then there’s not much in this documentary that will be new to you. It goes through the big hits in a pretty much chronological order, with some of the most watched found footage films, with a few hidden gems of the genre thrown in for good measure. What’s appealing to horror fans is the snippets of interviews with the people involved in the films, getting to know just a little bit more about some classics.

The most interesting parts is when the film goes into the history of the genre, and it’s predecessors in novels like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and early films that feature elements of the genre such as Peeping Tom from 1960. It then spends some time in the 80s and 90s with some pre-Blair Witch films, such as the ever controversial Cannibal Holocaust. Thankfully it stays away from showing the worst parts of animal cruelty from that film.

Most of the documentary is focused on more recent films from the 2000s, with some lesser known titles getting some time to shine. Even the most hardcore horror fans are going to find out about some new films in this section. There’s also a good discussion about why the genre works so well for horror, even if a few points are repeated quite a few times.

Ultimately the biggest downfall is the documentaries length. It’s around a hundred minutes, which is longer than most films in the found footage genre, and it feels a lot longer. The last forty or so minutes feel really dragged out. Like there was too many interview sections that they didn’t want to cut down. It also ends on a real whimper.

The Found Footage Phenomenon is a decent documentary. If you’re a fan of the genre, you’re probably going to already know most things it’s discussing, but it’s still entertaining. At the same time if you’re not a fan, it’s not really going to win you over and make you want to seek out the films you’ve missed.

The Found Footage Phenomenon will be available on Shudder from 19th May

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About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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