Seems like everyone is making a found footage movie nowadays. I've seen my fair share of them, and to be clear, I rather enjoy the sub genre of horror. Some of the scariest movies I've ever seen have been found footage movies. Unfortunately, since everyone is jumping on the found footage bandwagon, we've been inundated with cheaply made, horribly edited pieces of crap that leave the audience staring at the screen numbly and asking themselves: What the hell did I just watch? And why did I watch the entire thing when it was clear that it wasn't going to get any better than the first 5 minutes of the movie?
Ubiquitous warning: This post contains movie spoilers, and horrible bad movies that may cause you to lose SANITY points if you watch them. To spare you that fate, I've watched them for you. A word of caution, these movies are so bad, my reviews of them here are super snarky. Like, for reals.
6. Episode 50 (2011)
"Episode 50" is, wait for it... the 50th episode of a paranormal investigator show where everything goes horribly wrong and lotsa people die.
In this bad found footage movie, paranormal investigators go into an insane asylum (shocking!) to film proof of ghosts but end up running into a demon instead. This demon, is killing people and making ghosts.
Hold on. Let me check my note.
Yup. It's a ghost making demon.
According to the information given to the investigators, inmates of the asylum died of natural causes when their hearts "literally exploded in their chests."
Man, what? Literally exploded? Like: BOOM? How the hell is that a natural cause of death?
I'm sorry ma'am. Your husband died due to heart explosion. We did everything we could, but since it blew up and shredded his chest, there's nothing we can do to resuscitate him.
On top of the hilarious fictional medical conditions, there's also a ton of random events in this movie, such as the camera guy running into this window, lifting the curtain to find bees. He totally hates bees. Like for real!
Later that night, the investigators come across the window to find dead bees all lined in a row on the sill.
The bees are never spoken of again.
OK... Bees. Got it.
See. Totally random events that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. And the ending comes out of nowhere. The plot never set up for it, and we're left going, WTF! Seriously? That's it?
This movie made me bitter. Why? Because it started out as an interesting spoof on ghost hunting shows, and then quickly unraveled the minute they get to the asylum and start shooting footage. Up until that point, the movie is entertaining, and actually funny at times.
I thought it was going to be about a group of skeptics that went around proving that ghosts weren't real and showing the cause of what witnesses actually saw.
Instead, it goes from being an interesting take on paranormal investigating and it does a complete heel-face turn. Suddenly, ghosts and demons are real, and the main character must battle with a demon to save his soul. Oh yeah, and the main character encountered the very same demon earlier in life, and it burned his hand... Riiiight.
This movie is so bad, it's rather funny. So unlike the other movies here, at least it's entertaining to watch.
5. Paranormal Activity (2007)
I know, I know, there's a ton of fan boys out there that absolute LOVE this movie.
I'm not one of them.
Why? Because the movie is boring as hell. It's so boring, I found myself yelling at the characters to do something other than sitting around knitting or doing beads all freaking day. (Watching this movie gave me flashbacks to high school, and when I was forced to read "Anna Karenina" by Tolstoy. There were six pages dedicated to how the peasants cut the grass! Six pages of dense text. Six! Ugh!)
On top of that, the movie is internally inconsistent, with the psychic investigator constantly flip-flopping about what is haunting what's her face. (Yeah, the movie was so boring, I forgot the character's names. And I don't care!) Is it a demon, a ghost? Do you take care of demons, or don't you? Tell me mister! What do you do? What is your purpose in this film? Oh yeah, that's right. Padding to make it longer than it should be.
"Paranormal Activity" may have been a decent short horror film, but as a feature length movie, it's a total snooze fest.
But, the ending Cassie! The ending is so good!
Really? Is it really that good? Let's watch it again shall we?
What's her face paces around the bed. Takes off her hubby's sheets, wanders down stairs, then starts screaming. There's a struggle OFF SCREEN between hubby and the possessed wifie poo- then a long pause. A very loooong pause, and then a jump scare as hubby is thrown into the camera. AAAAHHHHH!!! After that, chickie who may or may not be possessed by a demon or a ghost, walks in, all bloody, then approaches the camera and smiles,"spookily."
No, strike that, her look is spoopy, not spooky.
You want to tell me again why you think that's a scary movie? Please, indulge me. Tell me how I'm wrong in the comments section. I'll be nice and hear you out. Promise! I'd love to know your thoughts on this.
4. Area 407 (2012)
"Area 407" is a found footage movie about plane crash survivors that are attacked by dinosaurs. Yup. Dinosaurs.
The airplane crashing scene is the scariest part of the movie. After that, it quickly falls apart thanks to unlikable characters and their inability to act (not the actors not being able to act, but the characters not knowing what to do for most of the freaking movie).
I watched "Area 407" because it had an interesting premise. A plane crashes in the desert and then the surviving passengers are attacked by a pack of velociraptors.
RAWR! I'm a dinosaur!
We'll get back to the dinosaurs in a sec. Let's talk about the characters first:
This is Charlie.
Charlie is an asshole. He's so much of an asshole that he goes out of his way to make both the characters and the audience pissed off at him. Every time he speaks, you'll find yourself screaming at the TV for him to shut the eff up already. Trust me.
This is Trish. She's the one holding the camera and narrating for most of the movie.
She's just as annoying as Charlie, but in that "I'm a 13 year old girl and nosy as hell so I'm going to bother everybody" kind of way. She'll make you yell at the TV too, because she's an airhead and whines a lot. Like, all the time.
There's only one main character that's likable (and interesting); the photo journalist. He has an interesting back story, his reason for being on the plane makes sense, as does the reason why he has cameras and lights to use in the dark desert landscape. Unfortunately, and he gets the least amount of screen time.
The worst part about this movie is that more than half of it is made up of the characters arguing with each other about what do to after the plane crashes. They're literally screaming at each other at one point. And yes, I mean literally. Not like the heart explosion thing in the previous movie. This time, it actually happens.
The movie is about dinosaurs, right? Awesome! Dinosaurs attacking people! But do we get to see any of that on-screen. Not really. There's only two shots of the dinosaurs attacking the camera holder. That's it.
Throughout most of the movie, all we get are people shouting and arguing and getting mad at Charlie. Charlie argues so much, that he almost has a second heart attack in the process.
Trish and her sister would've been more sympathetic characters if they weren't so poorly portrayed. I'm not sure if it's the actors or the dialogue they were given, but damn are they shallow and annoying.
I watch movies to be entertained, not annoyed to the point where I'm about to turn it off because I can't stand watching it any more. The characters are trite and obnoxious, and the plot is so thread bare, that it would blow away in a light breeze if it were a rug.
Here's the recap:Kids get on plane, annoy passengers by filming them. Plane crashes for some unknown reason after suffering turbulence. Survivors of plane crash attempt to regroup and spend 30 minutes arguing about what do to while one of the kids is about to bleed to death because they made a crappy tourniquet on her arm with a belt and never bothered to wrap up her gushing wound. Then one dude goes to find the other half of the plane. He dies off screen. Another dude goes to find him, comes back, says there's a road, and then proceeds to get eaten off screen.
The group runs away from dinosaurs, finds an abandoned shack, holes up there for a while and then proceeds to argue. They find a walkie talkie, and attempt contact. A car shows up, someone gets out of it, asks a question and then drives away. The group makes a run for it and ends up in a ghost town. They find a military grade radio, are contacted by military, told to return to the plane and fire some flares.
Seriously? They didn't bother to check for flares when they went to find the first aid kit? UGH!
They go back, fire flares, more people are eaten by dinosaurs. Kids escape with CHARLIE (did I forget to mention that I hate him?) and eventually find help.
But, guess what the evil military man does to them once he finds them and says that he's going to help them? I won't spoil it for you.
Needless to say, "Area 407" suffers from the military is evil cliche. Because we so need more of that in our lives... Oh wait. We don't.
3. Diary of the Dead
This movie is so lame; I don't even know where to start. The main characters are boring, probably because most of the time, the actors sound bored. Lines are said without voice inflection, as though they're reading them from queue cards or a teleprompter.
The zombie actors are uninspired and comical. Hell, even the random survivors that the kids run into are a joke. Check out this deaf Amish man who keeps dynamite in his barn. Yes. That's right. He keeps explosives in his barn.
The movie has cut scenes from webcams of people across the globe talking about the zombies and totally freaking out about them. In one laughably silly video, a Japanese woman tells the audience "Don't bury dead. Shoot in head."
OK... Got it.
The worst part of Diary of the Dead is that it retreads over everything that has been established in all of the other Romero zombie movies: gotta shoot zombies in the head to kill them, someone freaking out telling everyone else that zombies are reanimated dead people, a main character is bit by a zombie in a stupid way that wouldn't have happened if anyone (themselves included) had been paying attention to their surroundings.
Diary of the Dead also includes such zombie cliches as:
- Ninja zombies
- Zombies playing dead
- Guts spilling out of a disemboweled zombie
- Crazy dude keeping zombies of dead loved ones in his home and lying about it so that when the zombies are discovered, they kill everyone in the main cast.
- Thinly veiled social commentary about how quickly our infrastructure would fall apart because none of it really matters
Much like "Area 407," the main characters in "Diary of the Dead" are unlikable jerks. I for one, was happy when the zombies finally got them and turned them into lunch. I'd say more about this one, but I think I've made my point.
2. Greystone Park (2012)
Three friends go explore the haunted Greystone Park psychiatric hospital to see if they can find proof that ghosts exist. Spooky things happen. People die. The end.
Seriously. That's all this movie is about.
"Greystone Park" is yet another ghost hunter/paranormal investigator found footage movie that is supposedly based on true events, or is real footage of the people being attacked and murdered by ghosts (in this instance, they take the form of shadow people and crazy people that they've possessed).
SHADOW PEOPLE! Ooooo!!! Spooky cookies!
Instead of sticking with a very easy to do ghost story where all you would need is a big guy to throw shadows on the walls while the main character run around screaming and dying, they decide to go with a ghost that's obsessed with dolls. In particular, a giant Raggedy Ann doll that keeps popping up in random places. Speaking of Raggedy Ann dolls, did you know that Annabelle (the creepy doll in "The Conjuring") was based on a cursed Raggedy Ann doll of the same name? Yeah, I think they were trying to use that in this film, but it totally fell flat.
For instance, there's a random scene in the middle where they find the hospital's chapel and there's a ton of creepy dolls in it, and, surprise, surprise, they get attacked by a female ghost. Yep. The old crazy chick that's into dolls cliche. Woo...
Can't we have, just once, a guy ghost that's obsessed with dolls? Please?
Anyways, back to the craptastic movie...
There are several things about this movie that are just... stupid.
This also movie features:
- Nepotism: The first is the introductory scene, in which Oliver Stone (that's right, THE Oliver Stone) joins the cast at the dinner table and they talk about ghosts and shadow people. You see, Oliver Stone's son, Sean Stone, is the one that wanted to do this movie. However, unlike his dad, Jr. can't make a good movie to save his life. He may be a decent actor, but as a writer and a movie director, he just doesn't have the chops. He may have the pedigree, but he has no grasp on what makes a movie good, and what doesn't. And that is seriously disappointing. He uses his family's name to make crappy movies. Nepotism at it's finest.
- Random events happening randomly. They throw in ghost sequences for no particular reason other than an attempt to try and shock the audience. The jump scares didn't even make me jump. I always jump at them because the sounds get loud suddenly. It's not the action on the screen, but the loud noise that makes me drop my popcorn. Every. Single. Time. Well, except for in this movie. The jump scares did not work. AT ALL.
- Some killer's ghost that murdered a whole bunch of patients while he worked there or something that is trying to kill them, or get them to kill each other, depending on the scene.
- Sean and Alex's friends break in to the haunted asylum, dress up in animal masks and robes, and wait for them to come down a stairwell, where they jump out and scare the crap out of them. The strange thing is, those people are completely untouched by the paranormal, right up until they meet up with Sean and Alex. Then they get killed by the ghosts. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
- Alex becomes obsessed with exploring the building and starts acting weird, and by acting weird I mean, being a total douche bag to his friends even they're scared and want to go home before a hobo kills them for their shoes.
- Alex and Sean attacking each other with pipes and hand tools and trying to kill each other
- A shadow man that isn't in 1/3 of the movie
- Dolls! Spoopy dolls everywhere! According to this urban explorer, those creepy dolls have been in Greystone Park for years. Someone hangs them up and moves them around. So this part of the film is based on that, and quite possibly, they used some of the actual dolls they found there in the movie. So it was life inspiring art in this case. But they could've worked a little harder to get the doll aspect to work better within the context of the actual plot of the movie. Wait... is there a plot in this movie?
- Shallow, trite characters. (This seems to be a running theme with these really bad found footage films.)
The main characters are so annoying and unsympathetic, I cheered when they started trying to kill each other.
Alex in particular, was a total douche, and ever time he opened his mouth I wanted him to just shut up. Seriously. Shut up already! He is a know-it-all who believes in the supernatural wholeheartedly; so much so that he calls himself Alexander Wraith.
A wraith, for those of you who don't know, is another word for a ghost. Genius huh?
Here's another compilation clip from the movie. It pretty much contains all of the good stuff from the film. There's just one problem with this; it's only 2 minutes long.
A movie that's one hour and twenty three minutes in length boils down to 2 minutes of actual good footage. Ouch!
Remember kids, when entering an abandoned, potentially haunted insane asylum, always bring your trusty maglight, and your super awesome camera that you got from your dad!
"Crowsnest" is a found footage film about a group of college kids that are going to spend the weekend at their friend's cabin in the woods. Unfortunately, their friend doesn't exactly remember where it is, because it's his uncle's cabin and they get lost. And, of course, one of the college kids, Justin, is a wannabe film maker, so he brings his camera with him EVERYWHERE.
- Chekhov's Night vision! The main character (Justin) gets a video camera for a birthday present and then plays around with the night vision for a good 10 minutes or so, all the while going on about how cool the night vision is on his brand new camera. Said night vision capabilities of the camera are then used later on in the film. Who would've thought that he'd use it later?
- Magical RV syndrome- HOOOOOOONK! The redneck cannibal killers drive a magical RV that can teleport. Sometimes its behind you, sometimes it's in front of you. And every time it shows up time, the driver is laying on the horn and running someone over. There's also a scene where the RV rams the car the college kids are driving. There's no damage done to the RV whatsoever, and yet, the car looks like it was rear ended by a truck going 70 miles per hour. To see the magical RV in action, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gshS6FIPRH4#t=1840
- Inbred Redneck cannibals
- A Ghost Town (sort of) that is ran by said Inbred Redneck Cannibals
- Random people getting run over the magically teleporting RV, at random!
- Road Rage: I think that this was supposed to be a cautionary tale. You know, don't get pissed off at people that want to drive past you and play games with them because they'll hunt you down, and eat you.
- Dude's getting lost in the woods because they don't know how to read a road map or want to stop and ask for directions
- Cell phones that don't work because there's no signal in the wooded mountains. So no one can call for help when the crazy redneck cannibals start chasing them with an RV.
- Did I forget to mention that the RV can do tight turns, and turn completely around in a narrow dirt road on the wooded hillsides of the mountains in a mere matter of seconds? Because it can.
See? Justin is just so in love with his camera, it turns him into a complete and total jerk. Also, there's no beer.
No BEER?! On a college camping trip? Noooooo!!!!
The inbred redneck cannibals, or whatever you want to call them, drive a huge RV which never runs out of gas. They're driving around with a license plate covered in duct tape so that you can't read the numbers (which is totally illegal by the way. They'd be forced to pay several fines and take the vehicle off the road if a cop ever caught them driving it). Oh yeah, and the inside of the RV has been gutted and transformed into a torture chamber where they slowly cut off people's limbs so that they can eat them. When the main character goes to rescue one of his remaining friends, instead of camping out inside the RV and waiting for the two cannibal killers to walk through the door and sucker punch them and tie them up or just plain old kill them, the dude runs away when he hears them coming, leaves his friend to die, and after running through the woods for several minutes, he's found by the killers and knocked unconscious without so much as a whimper.
That's when I turned the movie off. I couldn't take it any more. This movie was so bad, I couldn't finish watching it. It was so frustrating to watch, I was getting road rage; and I wasn't even driving while I was watching it!
To spare yourself of any further pain, I created a list of other bad found footage films that you shouldn't watch unless you really are a masochist.
Paranormal Activity 2
The Bucks County Massacre
Paranormal Activity 3
The Banshee Chapter
[Rec] 3: Genesis
The Last Broadcast
The Poughkeepsie Tapes