Found Footage Horror Films: Fear and the Appearance of Reality


Found Footage Horror Films: Fear and the Appearance of Reality

By Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

McFarland – 2014
ISBN: 978-0-7864-7077-8
244 Pages, $40.00

Considering I’m in the post production phase of making my own found footage movie “Stash”, a segment for the anthology feature film Devil’s Five, I was real interested in reading this book.

What was most intriguing about this written literary work was the psychological implications writer Alexandra Heller-Nicholas took away from all the found footage horror films she’s seen.  She dives into not only the amateur look that’s become the norm for these types of films, but the stories and the socio-political context she derived from them.

When you look at these movies from her perspective, it allows you to see many of these films like The Blair Witch Project, REC, Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity in a totally different light.

Heller-Nicholas establishes what should be considered the first films that incorporated the techniques utilized in this classification.  She traces this back to the driver’s safety films of the 1960s, supposed snuff films from the 1970s and the global television reality horror hoaxes and mocumentaries from the 1980s and 1990s.

She goes into considerable detail about the horror subgenre heavy weights The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity and their lasting impact.  She also talks about the considerable effect YouTube has had on this groupings’ recent popularity.

Altogether you’ll learn the chronological history of found footage and get deep breakdowns of the most important pictures this kind of film has released, in less than 250 pages.

I’d suggest reading Found Footage Horror Films.  For me it was valuable, especially since it’s such a widely used filmmaking approach and gave me a better understanding the aesthetic.