10 Reasons Why The Found Footage Film Genre Sucks

Because it presents a (usually) cheap method of filmmaking and has proven to be decently successful with audiences, found-footage movies have emerged as the latest trend to take over horror (and to some extent, action and sci-fi films). But by and large, it feels like the found-footage technique is a gimmick that ends up limiting films rather than liberating them. It€™s a subgenre that is seemingly defined by its own restraints, and while there have been a few successes (Blair Witch, , the first Paranormal Activity), usually it ends up becoming a sort of suffocating, dogmatic rules that squeeze any real surprise or originality out of the films its used in. Before I go any further though, I want to at least offer a little disclaimer: when found-footage movies are done well, and I mean really, really well, they can be unbelievably exciting, intense, and frightening. The Blair Witch Project is one of my all time favorite horror films, and the last ten minutes or so of [rec] are about as suspenseful as any movie can get. So the purpose of this list isn€™t to discredit all found footage movies; rather, just to point out areas where most of them come up short. And so here are ten reasons (in no particular order) why the found-footage genre, for lack of a better word, sucks. Note: Some spoilers will follow.

10. Invisible Main Characters

One of the worst aspects of found footage films is that for much of the film, one of the main characters is largely invisible. Someone has to be holding or operating the camera, and if the camera is moving, as it typically is during any action sequence or frightening scene, that means a main character has to be off screen during the action. This makes it tough to really relate to the film€™s narrator or main character, because while we see exactly what they see, we don€™t get to directly see how it affects them. Instead, we have to make do with their voice behind the camera, which gets some of the job done, but not all of it. There are, of course, a few exceptions or creative ways that films have gotten around this. Heather Donahue€™s final confession in The Blair Witch Project immediately comes to mind as a moment where the audience is really able to connect with the character, and a few other films have similar successful moments. But for the most part, the lack of a visible connection with the protagonist in key moments weakens the films. You only have to look as far back as some of the classic horror films from the 70s and 80s to see that watching terror grow on the face of a main character creates a real bond between the audience and that character, drawing us deeper into the film and its feelings. As an audience, we sympathize with characters we can see and connect to in all circumstances. Most found-footage movies rob us of that connection. This problem is compounded by...
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David Braga lives in Boston, MA, where he watches movies, football, and enjoys a healthy amount of beer. It's a tough life, but someone has to live it.

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