Found footage

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Analyzing the emergent subgenre of Found Footage Horror/Sci-Fi

Found footage, especially of the horror and sci-fi varieties, has only become more prevalent as tech advancements have put cameras in everyone’s pockets. Assuming that the trend won’t be reversing anytime soon, what then are becoming the tropes, the customs, the standard structures of found footage narratives? What are some of the questions engendered by the form? For instance, how is the viewer cast in the narrative? In what way is that narrative built to intersect with material reality? Given the nature of the story, what other narrative hands must be at work to get it to us? What sets found footage apart from forms like mockumentary or fictional news broadcast? What elements unify all these types?

  • Some common tropes and standard structures are definitely the whole "we have a paranormal entity/monster/scary old person" who is "haunting us/stalking us/acting scary" so lets "record the house, us while we sleep". Which, I guess is a structure that makes sense for the basis of what these movies are. But I do like the subversions such as with the "documentary film gone wrong". In regards to how the viewer is cast in the narrative is perfectly see in the first solid chunk of 'Cloverfield' where we barely ever see the camera man. This gives us a good portion of the movie where we very much feel like bearded camera man guy. This of course is in contrast to any Paranormal Activity film where the camera people can't stop showing their face, distancing the audience. – ZacharyP42 5 years ago
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  • This may be a little off-topic but one specific episode of the tv show Supernatural could help someone narrow down the stereotypical expectations of the found-footage genre. Supernatural often does episodes which parody different kinds of horror/mystery/etc. films, and often return to random episodes presented not from the main characters' perspective but from video recordings of people they are interacting with and the adventures those side characters experience. They are parodies, in a way, and by looking at parodies it can be easier to pin-point the expectations of a genre through what the show deems worthy of keeping intact. – Slaidey 5 years ago
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  • I think that found footage often results in a more immersive experience for the view than a mockumentary or even a news broadcast - the found footage supposedly comes from a regular person, just like the viewer, and often uses first person camera work (made even more intimate by using camera phones or other such 'amateur' devices).This is a great topic! – Winterling 5 years ago
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  • I agree with Winterling that the immersion perspective is important, i.e. the handheld camera, the entire basis of taking "amateur" footage that has likely not gone through editing. It creates a sort of realism and, when done right, there's an intimacy between the well-constructed characters and the viewer. That's why, in my opinion, it is distracting when a found footage movie inserts stinger music or looks too professionally handled, though the latter can still go over well. Also, the setup as to why the characters need to be wielding cameras usually needs to be believable. I personally liked movies like The Taking of Deborah Logan and The Sacrament. The Visit would be interesting to explore, though I have not seen it. – emilydeibler 5 years ago
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  • I know these game types have gone down in popularity however I think with re-branding and re-marketing these games would open up the market once more. If for example Rock Band decided to release Country Star or Pop World they would integrate a new generation of fans. They likely would be able to redesign the same hardware and sell it for higher prices as "limited edition" pieces. The game just needs to revive itself. I used to be an avid player. Things could change again. – alexpaulsen 5 years ago
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