THE FOUND FOOTAGE PHENOMENON P&I (2021)
Found footage horror films are like bleu cheese or Steely Dan – you either have a taste for them or you don’t. If you are already a fan, you will need little encouragement to woo you to this exhaustive documentary that traces the origins, impact, and legacy of the subgenre.
But even for the found footage horror skeptics amongst you, THE FOUND FOOTAGE PHENOMENON satisfyingly maps out precisely what has made these films so popular and exposes the sometimes sophisticated social and cultural nuances that make them tick. Stemming back to epistolary horror novels made of supposedly “found” documents like Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel DRACULA and Orson Welles’s legendary 1938 WAR OF THE WORLDS radio broadcast, documentarians Sarah Appleton and Phillip Escott pinpoint technology, media, and our anxieties around them as the central components of the found footage horror engine.
From CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST to THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, PEEPING TOM to HOST, THE FOUND FOOTAGE PHENOMENON traces the history of these films through the voices of key figures in the field who collectively account for its endurance. Interview subjects feature a monsters-of-rock line-up of found footage horror filmmakers including Ruggero Deodato (CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST), André Øvredal (TROLL HUNTER), Eduardo Sánchez (THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT), Jaume Balagueró ([REC]), Kōji Shiraishi (NOROI: THE CURSE, OCCULT, SHIROME, CULT), Aislinn Clarke (THE DEVIL’S DOORWAY), Patrick Brice (CREEP), Rob Savage (HOST), Michael Goi (MEGAN IS MISSING), Leslie Manning and Stephen Volk (GHOSTWATCH), Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler (THE LAST BROADCAST), and Dean Alioto (THE MCPHERSON TAPE), as well as critics and authors who have specialized in the subject (including your humble blurb-writer right here!). Together, the film fleshes out the complex and fascinating story behind these perennially popular tech-centric nightmares. (ALEXANDRA HELLER-NICHOLAS)