Remember this famous scene?

Or close to that amount, anyway. And by the way, if you enjoy found footage horror movies and don’t want me to spoil them, you might want to just leave this post. Trust me, you’ll thank me in the long run.

The other day I had an idea for a found footage horror movie. There’s been a lot of them in theatres lately, including Paranormal Activity, The Blair Witch Project, Chronicle, and Entity, just to name a few. I remember when Paranormal Activity came out, how it was such a big deal and how even people who weren’t fans of horror were holding huge conversations and spirited debates on it. I saw the commercials of people lined up around theaters to see it, and I remember some friends of mine telling me how they went to see it, and near the end one of them got up and started shouting, “I’m a bitch! I’m a bitch! Get me out of here!” I was so mad that I had to wait till it came out on DVD to see it (those were the days when I had to rely on my parents if I wanted to go see a movie in theaters, and they only took us if it was a film the whole family could watch. Guess how many of those were horror films? That would be none).

Anyway, I realized then that there are a lot of similarities between found footage films, at least the popular ones that make it into the theatres. The most glaringly obvious (besides the method of filming, of course) is in terms of plot:

  1. Characters become aware that there is something supernatural going on and resolve to investigate. We may also be informed that the footage we are about to watch was found after a certain amount of time, usually after the deaths or disappearances of the characters.
  2. Characters investigate, and start to realize that there is something strange going on.
  3. The strange events escalate, becoming more and more sinister in nature.
  4. The characters start to get anxious or angry and start fighting among themselves.
  5. The strange events reach a zenith, during which time the terror is (hopefully) very high and most, if not all of the characters die off.
  6. The film ends, and we now know why the characters have disappeared and only the cameras and film were found.

In addition, most found footage films are made very cheaply (Paranormal Activity was made on $15K and Blair Witch Project was made on $20K to $25K, while major horror films like The Conjuring and Sinister were made for 20 million and 3 million, respectively). And for some reason, the characters always have their cameras on and holding them up to get the footage, even in awkward situations. We as the audience either forget that most people, even filmmakers, wouldn’t place such emphasis on getting everything while our lives are in danger or we just overlook it. Also, there tends to not be title cards or opening or end credits. None at all. Helps to make it seem like these events actually happened, I guess. Oh, and also the characters tend to be isolated somehow. Whether they’re trapped in their house or lost in the woods or in an abandoned factory in the middle of nowhere, they’re cut off and there’s no knight in shining armor to come to their rescue. They are alone, and it’ll be their undoing.

Look out behind you!

But yeah, that’s basically most found footage films out there.

So if these films are so similar, especially in terms of plot, why do horror filmmakers keep making them and why do horror fans keep going to see them? Well, I guess it has to do with the execution. These sort of films may be as predictable as your run-of-the-mill romance novel, but there’s so much room to experiment and try to new things. And even if you have a basic idea of how the plot is going to go, you don’t know what will be behind the corner or what will jump out and terrify you. You can’t know, so if the movie’s any good, you’ll sit on the edge of your seat wondering what the heck will happen next, and screaming when it does.

So with all that in mind, could I possibly make this found footage film I came up with myself? quite possibly. I plan on buying a video camera after I get back from my study abroad trip, so it wouldn’t be inconceivable to make a film. I’d just need a little funding, a cast and crew, and a location. Plus the time to do it and some marketing. It could possibly happen. I even have a title in mind: The Red Monk. Good title, right?

Well, if the opportunity comes along, I’d love to do it. And you never know what could happen. It could be a very big thing.

What do you think of found footage films? Love them or hate them? Do you think they’re a bit predictable?

If I did make a film, would you see it? Would you even want to be part of it?

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