American Murder: The Family Next Door (2020, dir. Jenny Popplewell)

An archive documentary time-lining the 2018 murder of Shannan, Celeste, and Bella Watts by Shannan’s husband Christopher, and the subsequent police investigation. Grim and compelling, and well-assembled from news coverage, social media posts, police and court interview videos, and from text conversations.

Here’s the trailer.

Willow Creek (2014, dir. Bobcat Goldthwait)

A couple explore a Northern California forest, making a documentary about Bigfoot. Straightforward but strong found-footage horror; a Sasquatch Blair Witch Project in all but name. Effective nevertheless, and doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Here’s the trailer:

The Sacrament (2013, dir. Ti West)

A documentary crew travels to a remote religious community to conduct an interview. Its found-footage approach to its riff on the Jim Jones/Jamestown cult mass suicide works, but the film doesn’t convince in the storyline logic of its sudden dark turn. A shame, as there’s talent involved, and Gene Jones is great as the messianic Father.

I See You (2019, dir. Adam Randall)

A cop’s dysfunctional family life takes a sinister twist during a missing child investigation. Excellent horror-thriller with a confident script and direction, relishing the ways it subverts expectations during a dazzling second half. It starts slow, but stick with it. Recommended.

Wrinkles the Clown (2019, dir. Michael Beach Nichols)

The story of an online sensation: a clown you can pay to scare your children. Solid documentary (which flirts with the extent to which it might be fictional, an art project, or something else) that explores memes, contemporary media folk devils, coulrophobia, parenting, “behavioural services”, and more.

Unfriended (2014, dir. Leo Gabriadze)

Teen friends are terrorised by someone assuming the online identity of a dead classmate. Effective real-time horror-thriller, told via a single laptop screen. Plays straight with its material. Some sly subversion of teenage neuroses, but there’s some commentary here about cyberbullying, and about revenge fantasies in the digital age.

Body Cam (2020, dir. Malik Vitthal)

A bereaved patrol officer investigates the cover-up of a child’s death, and the police killings that ensue. Flawed but fascinating horror/procedural that explores cop-on-black murder and the need for justice through genre-heavy allegory, drawing on J-horror and found-footage elements as well as from Candyman. Worth your 90 minutes.

Demonic (2015, dir. Will Canon)

A group of students attempt a ritual in a supposedly haunted house; a cop investigates the aftermath. Generally-solid reworking of familiar material (including nods to The Blair Witch Project) helped no end by good playing from reliable hands like Maria Bello and Frank Grillo. No real surprises, but decent enough for fans of the genre.

Avicii: True Stories (2017, dir. Levan Tsikurishvili)

DJ Tim Bergling/Avicii’s rise to fame, and struggles with physical and mental health issues, as well as with overbearing management and commercial pressures. A fascinating and ultimately poignant behind-the-scenes documentary detailing the mu.ltiple stressors acting on a popular artist’s life.