Found Footage Fever: 10 Horror Films That Could Work Reimagined in the Popular Format

Found Footage Fever: 10 Horror Films That Could Work Reimagined in the Popular Format

May 01, 2012

Ring still photo

In a recent interview at THR, Paramount President Adam Goodman revealed his tentative plans for a reboot of The Ring. Goodman sees The Ring as another microbudgeted offering from the studio – one with minimal production costs so that all earnings are profits. Paramount has had success with the formula, citing the Paranormal Activity films and The Devil Inside as proof that the concept works for genre films.

While it remains to be seen what direction a remake of The Ring (itself a remake of the Japanese film Ringu) will take, the observant will notice that the other microbudgeted titles mentioned by the studio were found footage films. Found footage has become the format of choice for filmmakers looking to craft genre flicks on the cheap, and perhaps The Ring will wind up joining titles like The Devil Inside in the burgeoning subgenre. Or, maybe it will go the route of the recently announced Carrie remake, and mix a standard narrative with elements of found footage in some kind of hybridized approach to storytelling in the modern era.

We feel a certain degree of trepidation about either of those changes, but it got us thinking: what other horror films could still work if they made the transition to the found footage format? Here are ten of our choices.

Before we get started, we’re not advocating remaking any of these films as found footage flicks. We’re not advocating remaking any of these movies at all (even though some are already remakes or have been remade). These are just ten films that we can envision working as found footage movies – so don’t berate me in the comment section for being part of what’s wrong with Hollywood, okay?

That being said -- Hollywood, when you use these, please feel free to mail me the checks directly. You're welcome.

Friday the 13th Jason Voorhees

Friday the 13th

While Halloween flirted with found footage in the absolutely dreadful Halloween: Resurrection, we think it’s still possible to take a traditional slasher flick and make it work in the subgenre. Step 1: Replace Michael Myers with Jason Voorhees. Step 2: Drop the stupid “we’re broadcasting this on the Internet” thing that felt played out even back in 2002. Step 3: Play it all straight and serious. Step 4: Do not cast Busta Rhymes no matter what. Step 5: Profit.

Seriously, Jason Voorhees could be pretty terrifying in a found footage flick – there’d be a sense of urgency to it all (if it was done correctly, of course) that would set it apart from more traditional Friday entries. We have no clue what the set-up would be (please avoid the cliché of having a group of kids/paranormal experts investigating Camp Crystal Lake…), but the limited point-of-view inherent to the form could certainly work in the film’s favor. Audience members’ wouldn’t be able to see anything characters couldn’t, thereby ratcheting up the tension considerably.

With this franchise currently in limbo, maybe a radical departure like this is worthy of consideration. After all, they’ve already sent Jason to space…

Demons still photo


Lamberto Bava’s classic Italian splatterfest is pretty perfect already (GREATEST. DEUS EX MACHINA. ENDING. EVER.), but if anyone ever gets the urge to update it for a new generation, we think going the found footage route could be a potential benefit.

If you’ve never seen Demons, it’s about a group of European people who wind up trapped inside a theater showing a screening of a movie about people turning into flesh-eating Hell-beasts. It’s a full-on fight for survival when folks inside the theater start turning into monsters too.

Between the isolated locale and the fact that the whole film revolves around a movie within a movie, we could see an updated Demons using the found footage angle as a plot device. People are already texting on their phones during every screening we attend these days, so it’s not a stretch to imagine them filming things as all Hell breaks loose around them. Plus, theaters are dark – which means a great excuse to use night vision. Found footage films love night vision!

The Mist still photo

The Mist

Frank Darabont’s adaptation of a Stephen King novella is great (except that ending…), but we can see where it might work if re-imagined as a film wherein the survivors trapped inside the supermarket are recording all the strange goings-on happening around them.

Cloverfield gave us a solid template for how to do a monster movie with this kind of set up, and The Mist could build upon that. The claustrophobia of the supermarket would be more intense with the limited angles of camera phones and video cameras. That whole disintegration of society thing could feel a lot more urgent when it’s up close and personal. And the trip out into the fog to the nearby stores? How creepy could that be?

We don’t believe there’s any real need to redo The Mist, but there are some intriguing possibilities in taking it out of its traditional cinematic style and shooting it all with handicams and the like.

The Fly still photo

The Fly

David Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly is the next film on our list – and we can easily see how this one could fit personally recorded footage into its narrative with minimal tweaking.

A modern day scientist like Seth Brundle would almost assuredly record his tests, and would also most likely to continue to record his transformation after things go wrong for posterity’s sake. Imagine watching Brundle turn into Brundlefly up close and personal. The puking on his food, the pieces of him falling off as he becomes less human and more insect, the personal discussions on camera like reality show confessionals…it’s all intriguing.

For it to really work, they’d need a director of Cronenberg’s caliber, another top notch FX team, and an impressive lead actor (the found footage angle inside the lab could make the whole Geena Davis love story irrelevant and extraneous, so whoever plays Brundle would have to do the heavy lifting acting-wise), but a reimagining of The Fly where the personalized tapes of Seth Brundle’s devolution provided the bulk of the story is a film we’d want to check out.

Inside still photo


Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s Inside is not the greatest film of the recent batch of gory French horror movies (that award goes to Pascal Laugier’s soul-crushing Martyrs), but it is the one that would be most likely to work with found footage.

A young pregnant woman is menaced by another woman hellbent on taking her unborn child in a suburban home in the feature – which is bloody, violent, and showcases an absolutely mesmerizing performance from actress Beatrice Dalle.

Making the jump to found footage for Inside would be simple – the film takes place inside a house, so why not capture all the atrocity on security cameras placed throughout the home? If it worked for things like Paranormal Activity, it could work for Inside (it could also work for something like The Collector, too).

Hostel still photo


Hostel is another title that seems like a no-brainer. American tourists go backpacking across Eastern Europe, run afoul of some very bad people, and wind up dead. People who go on trips love to take pictures and video of their adventures, and it’s not a stretch to imagine a place like the torture chamber where Jay Hernandez and friends wound up recording the action as “souvenirs” for their clientele or to subsidize their income by running a black market snuff film ring.

This one could really get back to the roots of found footage – and mimic the biggest films in the field, titles like The Blair Witch Project and Cannibal Holocaust. The set-up is simple – kids disappear, the authorities find some of their belongings, which includes video footage, that footage leads them to the place where they died, where they find out exactly what happened…in gruesome detail. It practically writes itself.

You could probably also apply this same sort of approach to something like A Serbian Film too – which lends itself to a found footage recreation quite easily given that it’s a film focused on making a film.

The Crazies still photo

The Crazies

Since we’ve already had a remake of George Romero’s cult classic The Crazies back in 2010, it seems unlikely that we’ll be getting another one any time soon – but if we did, it’s ripe for the picking for a found footage auteur.

With public citizens capturing their own footage of everything from street fights to police brutality these days, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how much video there’d be of a genuine catastrophe happening in our streets. 9/11 happened over a decade ago (when there was less of this kind of technology available to the average citizen) and there’s tons of footage of those horrific moments to be found with a simple Google search.

If, God forbid, something like 9/11 were to happen today, the sheer number of video recordings capturing the events would be immense. Now, imagine The Crazies – which chronicles how a biological weapon turns the citizens of a town into murderous monsters – and think how many different pieces of homemade video there’d be of an event like that.

When found footage works best, it’s because it puts the viewer dead center in a terrible situation. We can’t imagine many things more horrible than being at ground zero of a biological weapon spill that leads to you having to outwit not only your friends and neighbors who want to kill you, but the military as well. Because of that, we think The Crazies would make for an effective entry in the subgenre.

The Thing still photo

The Thing

John Carpenter’s The Thing has already had a prequel, and we’re perfectly cool with there never being a remake of the film (which is quasi-ironic, since it was a remake as well), but if someone were actually ballsy enough to try it, why not do it with a mix of personal cameras and security footage?

The sort of lo-fi approach of fixed cameras and handheld personal recorders would only serve to play up the claustrophobia and paranoia that makes The Thing one of the greatest horror films of all time. Imagine all the subversive, sneaky shots of guys like Childs or MacReady as everyone does their best to keep a close eye on everyone else. Think about how the ambiguity might be ratcheted up to an even higher degree with all of this footage – about how one character might interpret (or misinterpret) even the slightest action of one of their colleagues caught on camera. Better still? Consider the infamous couch scene, not shot from multiple angles around the room – but instead filmed entirely from the perspective of one of the non-infected sitting next to The Thing.

Lot of potential in this one, even though it’s unlikely we’ll ever see it.

Visitor Q still photo

Visitor Q

Takashi Miike’s Visitor Q isn’t a traditional horror film, but like most of the Japanese filmmaker’s work it certainly crosses into the genre.

While the story is ostensibly about a family disintegrating, things take a turn upward (and into strange territory) when the titular Visitor Q shows up unexpectedly and helps everyone become a better person (sort of…).

Visitor Q already straddles a line that puts it close to found footage – the patriarch of the family, Kenichi Endo, is a reporter for a tabloid-style reality show and records whacked out segments with his own family. These include an encounter with his prostitute daughter, the aftermath of the nightly fireworks attack launched at his home by the bullies who torment his son, and how the son abuses his own mother.

What would make Visitor Q so potentially interesting as a found footage flick is that it’s not tied to a specific everyday reality. Most found footage films place the viewer in a world they’re familiar with and then add the supernatural or the unexpected elements to the mix. Miike’s world is so off-kilter from the start that we only sort of recognize it as the same place we inhabit in our waking lives. Seeing that connection between the “real world” we know and the one Miike’s characters inhabit presented through the more intimate approach of homemade video could be truly subversive. Or it could be a complete disaster – but it’s a risk we’d be willing to take to find out for ourselves.

The Descent still photo

The Descent

Finally, we reach the end our of list with Neil Marshall’s The Descent – a title that lends itself so easily to found footage that we’re surprised no one has pitched remaking it in the format.

A group of friends head out to explore some caves, become trapped, and discover some subterranean dwellers who are anything but friendly in Marshall’s intense and claustrophobic fright film. It’s perfect for found footage – the women could all easily wear helmet-mounted cameras that would capture everything they were seeing and place the audience in their shoes.

The idea of spotting these monsters from a first-person perspective just outside the reach of a helmet head lamp is creepy enough, but seeing the tight crevasses the characters have to navigate up close and personal terrifies the claustrophobic part of us even more.

The only danger here is having too much bouncy-cam action during the chases and battles. With the bobbing head lamps and bouncing cameras, there’s a danger of inducing motion sickness for some viewers. That could be dealt with – and we think the rewards outweigh the potential risks.

And there you have it – ten horror films we could see working if they were reimagined as found footage features. Which of these intrigues you? Which titles did we miss? Leave us a note in the comment section. 

Categories: Features, Buzz Bin, Geek, Horror, lists
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