V/H/S (2012, dir. Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Ti West, Radio Silence)

A horror anthology, linked by the contents of a video tape. Overlong (there’s a short movie too much) and at times repetitive, this is nevertheless a generally solid found-footage horror compilation, even if the dudebro-ness on display doesn’t always translate into critique. Two standout stories and the interesting credits (acting and direction) make it worth your while. Sequels followed.

Here’s the trailer.

Welcome to the Jungle (2007, dir. Jonathan Hensleigh)

Four US backpackers searching for a long-lost heir in Southwest New Guinea disregard rumours of cannibal tribes. Straightforward but effective found-footage horror with interesting credits, clearly in dept to both Cannibal Holocaust and The Blair Witch Project, with a glimmer of Heart of Darkness in the background.

Here’s the trailer.

As Above, So Below (2014, dir. John Erick Dowdle)

A driven archaeologist and crew investigate the Paris catacombs for a sacred alchemical relic. Decent location work, a photogenic cast, and a couple of unsettling early moments make promises that the movie can’t quite sustain, setting for straightforward face-your-demons stuff but no real story answers.

Here’s the trailer.

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:

They’re Outside (2020, dir. Sam Casserly & Airell Anthony Hayles)

A YouTuber psychologist attempts to force a cure on an agoraphobic; supernatural forces are at work. While some performances are fun, the bulk of the movie is simply an arrogant and unlikeable bloke bullying a woman for running-time-consuming reasons. A decent genre idea for a short is stretched uncomfortably to feature-length. Not for me.

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.

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: Dark Web (2018, dir. Stephen Susco)

A secondhand laptop brings danger to a group of friends. An OK sequel which adopts the same all-on-one-computer-screen real-time thriller approach as the 2014 original, though is otherwise separate. A more complicated story this time around, and effective enough, fully exploring the limitations of its premise.

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.