“Apollo 18” opened last week with the terrifying “true” story of America’s secret final lunar mission. The film is shot in the ever popular “this shit totally happened” style, and looks to make its place amongst the increasingly popular horror genre.
Most recently “Paranormal Activity” and the aptly titled sequel “Paranormal Activity 2” broke onto the scene and became wildly popularity, proving that people will still pay twelve dollars a ticket to be startled.
But the genre has produced some passably decent films. “Cloverfield” centered on a group of friends bound by their love of expository conversation that find themselves in the middle of a monster attack on New York City. The film deserves some props for creating an interesting take on the monster genre, giving a more grounded interpretation of a Godzilla attack. Plus, since J. J. Abrams produced the film, it’s filled with secret insight into Lost.
2008’s “Quarantine” was another attempt to make the moviegoers believe they were watching found footage of people being slaughtered. The movie provides some decent scares, but like so many that attempt the genre, the sense of reality is lost when trying to cram in an explanation of the events transpiring -a problem definitely not present in “Cloverfield.”
Undoubtedly the movie that looms largest in the handicam genre is “The Blair Witch Project,” the iconic film that is most responsible for the current popularity of this style of filmmaking. The film has reached such a zenith of pop culture -deservedly so- that some define the entire genre by it. This movie excels by relying on the subtlety of an oppressive atmosphere of fear and paranoia rather than merely startling the viewers like so many horror films.
But perhaps the grandfather of all these movies is 1980’s “Cannibal Holocaust,” a film that mixes traditional narrative filmmaking with “recovered” footage of a documentary crew transgressing against a tribe in the Amazon jungle. This film is a bit of a cult favorite, and is great for fans of senseless brutality due to the gratuitous amounts of violence. It is probably best viewed at a midnight showing at your local independent theater. Disclaimer: several animals were definitely harmed in the making of this film.
These films show that using “recovered” footage isn’t always just a clever way of keeping a movie budget down; the technique can occasionally yield some genuine fright. So check them out and try to decide which ones are the real deal.