Good Camcorder Movies – Found Footage Movies

Friday, August 27, 2010 at 8:39 am

More and more good camcorder movies are popping up in theaters these days. I’m sure you know the type of film I’m talking about: someone is recording the events that occur during the movie, and we see them unfold through the electronic eye of the camcorder.

In many cases, this is combined with the “found footage” ploy, telling viewers that the film was found in the woods or rubble of a city before being transferred to the big screen. Most people are smart enough to realize that this is just a publicity gimmick, although I do know of a few who believed the Blair Witch footage was recovered by real-life authorities and made available to the public (instead of being locked away in an evidence room). Yep, and Richard Gere stuck a hamster up his butt.

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Cloverfield (2008) – Producer J.J. Abrams wreaked havoc on New York City with this tale of a massive monster running amok. What begins as a farewell party turns to chaos as The Big Apple falls under attack, and a group of twenty-somethings are caught in the middle. We get to see the action through the video lens of Hudson “Hud” Platt (T.J. Miller), a good-natured doofus who was tricked into filming testimonials at the ill-fated party. Abrams wanted to give American audiences their own version of Godzilla, and he succeeds admirably. Also starring Michael Stahl-David, Odette Yustman, and Lizzy Caplan.

REC (2007) – Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) is a reporter who documents jobs performed in the wee hours of the night. When she and her cameraman, Pablo, are doing a piece on firefighters, they end up riding along on a call for a woman trapped in her apartment. Turns out the woman is all kinds of crazy, and she manages to rack up a nice little body count before being gunned down. All hell breaks looks from there, as anyone bitten soon goes crazy, and the military shows up to quarantine the building (and is wiling to kill anyone who doesn’t comply). Pablo continues to film events as the number of infected grow at an alarming rate, and the battle for survival reaches its climax in a pitch black apartment once used by an agent of the Vatican to research demonic possession. A tension-filled Spanish outing for fans of good camcorder movies.

Quarantine (2008) – This is the American remake of REC, with the plot following closely with the original. Jennifer Carpenter (TV’s Dexter) stars in the lead role of the reporter, while recognizable supporting players include Jay Hernandez (Hostel) and Rade Serbedzija (Snatch). Look for the upcoming sequel to focus on an outbreak at an airport.

The Blair Witch Project (1999) – The king of good camcorder movies, this indie blockbuster follows a trio of filmmakers into the woods of Maryland to make a movie about the legendary Blair Witch. They get more than they bargained for, of course, and their minds slowly begin to come apart when confronted with a series of things that go bump in the night. A superb example of low-budget filmmaking, although it’s a shame that the sequel was such an awful piece of trash. The final five minutes are about as frightening as you’ll ever see in a horror film.

Colin (2008) – This zombie flick made for under $100 (that’s right, $100) doesn’t depict events though the lens of the camera. Instead, it makes our list due to director Marc Price actually using a camcorder to shoot his motion picture (with editing done on his PC). The first feature film to be told from the perspective of a zombie, Colin follows the titular undead as he feasts on flesh, tries to avoid being killed by the living, and desperately grapples with memories from his past.

Paranormal Activity (2009) – Like The Blair Witch Project before it, Paranormal Activity demonstrated the power of word-of-mouth and the Internet to help put a movie over the top. The film follows a young couple whose lives are disrupted by an unseen presence. The male of the duo decides to place cameras around their house to capture events, and we’re treated to phantom attacks, slamming doors, and unnerving possession. Steven Spielberg previewed the film before it was purchased by the studio, and he was convinced that the disc he’d been given was haunted. Audiences reacted in a similar fashion, as many people headed to the exits rather than endure the mounting tension. Originally costing $15,000, the film went on to gross over $194 million at the global box office.

Timecode (2000) – While most of the good camcorder movies available fall into the horror genre, that’s not always the case. For example: Timecode, an experimental film from director Mike Figgis. The screen is divided into four parts, showing continuous takes of individuals in and around the office of a film production company. While it’s certainly not for everyone, the cast alone makes it worth checking out. Salma Hayek, Stellan Skarsgard, Glenne Headly, Saffron Burrows, Danny Huston, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and Holly Hunter.

The Last Exorcism (2010) – Another horror film presented as found footage, The Last Exorcism details the ill-fated attempt of a disillusioned minister (Patrick Fabian) to document his final exorcism and expose the lies of the church at the same time. Imagine his surprise when the possession turns out to be real! If you’re into freaky farmer’s daughters who put professional contortionists to shame, you’ll definitely want to catch this one.

Home Movie (2008) – Considered by some critics to be the best “found film” ever made (or at least the most terrifying), Home Movie uses camcorder footage to show the disturbing erosion of a family living in the woods of upstate New York. Creepy kids abound, and the film stars Adrian Pasdar (TV’s Heroes) and Cady McClain (All My Children). Fans of The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity should definitely sit up and pay attention.

84 Charlie MoPic (1989) – Nominated for awards at both the Sundance Film Festival and the Independent Spirit Awards, this camcorder movie is shot from the perspective of a cameraman serving in the American military during the Vietnam War. As his five man reconnaissance team heads into enemy territory, we come to learn about the individual soldiers and their respective hopes and fears. But things really pick up when the group comes under fire, providing a stark reminder of the horrors of war.

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Hopefully, these good camcorder movies will keep you busy for a while. When you’re done watching them all, maybe you’ll be inspired to go out, buy a digital camera of your own, and create the next surprise indie hit.

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This entry was posted on Friday, August 27th, 2010 at 8:39 am and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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