Sound On Sight Radio #224: The Found-Footage Horror Genre

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Though the subgenre has its roots in decades-old cult cinema (or, if you;d like, all the way back to Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds in 1938), “found footage” horror is most probably still most strongly associated with a breakout 1999 flick called The Blair Witch Project, a microbudget thriller that wound up inspiring equal amounts of derision and praise – and a whole lot of motion sickness. While it wasn’t the first horror flick to masquerade as real-life terror, its success did bring about a new wave of movies attempting similar feats. This week sees the release of Daniel Stamm’s The Last Exorcism, a horror mock-doc in which a disillusioned preacher may or may not face down an ancient terror; you’ll probably also recall director Matt Reeves’ fusion of the found-footage approach with Godzilla-style mayhem in 2008’s ambitious Cloverfield. All three get a once-over. Remember, it’s just radio..

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The Playlist:

Lost in the Trees – A Walk Around the Lake
The Impressions – Preacher Man
Ratatat – Seventeen Years

  1. Dave Valentine says

    Another great show and I totally echo Ricky’s views on Cloverfield – Sure, the first 20 minutes seems a little long with some pretty obnoxious characters, but the set-up is all worth it for the incredible ride that happens for the rest of the movie. There’s been talk of a Cloverfield sequel since the original was released – Perhaps filmed on the same night from another viewpoint (ala [REC2]).

    I also really love The Blair Witch Project too, but my inital viewing was somewhat spoilt by watching it in a packed theatre (the hype was overwhelming when it was released here in the UK on Halloween 1999) and the majority of the audience simply didn’t understand it. There were mutterings of negativity from the outset, as well as several walk-outs. These distractions really did spoil the movie for me, but re-discovered it on VHS, which leads me to question whether the Found Footage genre is better experienced on a big screen, or at home on a TV where the authenticity of the film is perhaps enhanced – Blair Witch was most definitely not a ‘wide-screen’ film and, along with Man Bites Dog, is a much more satisfying viweing at home.

    Looking forward to the follow-up show.

    1. Justine says

      In terms of pacing and establishing the chaos of an unexpected attack, I will definitely agree that the extended sequence at the beginning of Cloverfield is well earned. I don’t take issue with it’s inclusion, because it is theoritcially well utilized, but am still not fond of the overscripted/written feel that it has. It lacks a naturalism that I think is present in the film’s stronger moments, which I think really holds back the film in general.

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