Found Footage Needs To Get Away From Horror

By Robert Scucci | Published

I’ve recently watched an unhealthy amount of movies using found footage, and I noticed something that bothers me way more than it should. Every single movie using found footage can be found within the horror, suspense, or thriller genres. I think it’s time we figure out how to use this filming method in other genres because, if used properly, it may be fertile ground for some great storytelling outside of horror.

Found Footage Is A Cheap Way To Generate Suspense

creep netflix

It makes sense that found footage is most effectively used in horror because it generates a healthy amount of suspense. After all, the reason why films like The Blair Witch Project, The Taking of Deborah Logan, and Creep are such effective works of horror is that the viewer is subjected to whatever the camera operator is witnessing, which allows them to experience their fear first-hand. It’s an incredibly efficient way to deliver scares and let the audience see exactly what’s at stake through a first-person limited perspective.

Comedy Could Use Found Footage

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There’s an old adage that suggests horror is just comedy without a punchline, so maybe it’s about time we start adding a punchline to the equation. Through the same use of limited perspective, I can see some shenanigans happening at a high level.

If the Jackass franchise decided to take the found footage approach, attach electrodes to Johnny Knoxville and Steve O, and throw them and the rest of the gang in an escape room that’s rigged to shock them when they make a wrong turn, then slapstick humor will never be the same again because the element of surprise would make everybody watching blow a funny fuse.

Workplace Sitcom In Found Footage

the poughkeepsie tapes

However, I think the easiest way to explore found footage filming is to find intellectual properties that are already halfway there.

Series like The Office and Parks and Recreation already reside in the mockumentary genre, and I think it would be great to see a workplace comedy that utilized found footage more extensively. Horror films like The Poughkeepsie Tapes work great because outside commentary in the form of fake newscasts and witness testimonials are able to drive the story, and then the found footage supplements the storytelling by showing a first-hand account of what’s being talked about.

Could you imagine how funny it would be if Dwight Schrute had a GoPro strapped to his head while committing an act of low-level corporate espionage, only for him to turn the corner and get beamed in the face by Jim? Meanwhile, Michael Scott is having a meltdown when he opens the fridge and finds out somebody stole his lunch.

Found Footage Mockumentaries

A musical mockumentary in the same vein as This Is Spinal Tap can also benefit from the found footage treatment. If a bunch of narcissistic and out-of-touch musicians decide to document the recording of their upcoming and highly anticipated album and set up motion capture cameras throughout their homes and rehearsal spaces, the disconnect between what the principal characters are doing in their spare time and what they’re telling each other lays out the groundwork for some career-ending levels of miscommunication.

It’s Been Decades Of The Same Thing

There can even be a horror-adjacent subplot in which they think their studio is haunted, but it’s just somebody squatting in the attic and crawling out from the ceiling tiles at night to raid the fridge. Maybe I just need to go outside more, but if somebody doesn’t come up with a found footage comedy before I retire, I just might have to make one myself.