Sometimes you just can’t help making your way into the genre spotlight when a more traditional shooting technique applies, but for those making a movie within a movie, you’re throwing yourself into POV/found-footage territory and are essentially enabling all the horrors that come with it. These are some exampes of times when you really shouldn't be picking up the movie camera.
WARNING: This list contains plot spoilers!
Everything is too good to be true.
In Ti West’s latest, Patrick (Kentucker Audley) travels out to Eden Parish to try to bring his sister (Amy Seimetz) home from a suspect sober-living community while his buddies Sam and Jake (A.J. Bowen and Joe Swanberg) come along for the ride to document the experience for their outlet, Vice. The community is warm and welcoming? Patrick’s sister insists it’s truly paradise? You’re granted unprecedented access to the man in charge? It really is too good to be true.
You’ll do anything to get the shot.
When you start out making a movie about an alleged bear poacher and find out he’s really hunting trolls, it makes sense that you’d want to dig a little deeper and learn some more, but you’ve got to know when to call it quits. It’s one thing to join Hans (Otto Jespersen) on a hunt when there’s a way out, but when the troll tracks lead straight into an abandoned mine, you should consider what might follow you inside.
You’ll ignore the warning signs.
Derek (Derek Lee) probably should have canceled his trip right after being diagnosed with a dangerous brain condition, but when you run the risk of losing your life to an aneurysm at any moment, it’s understandable to want to live it up while you can. However, when you wake up with a mysterious wound after a one-night stand and then find yourself vomiting, punching walls and pulling goo out of your eye, it’s time to put down the camera and see a doctor.
Diary of the Dead
A charged battery will be more valuable than your life.
If you find yourself in the middle of a found-footage movie, odds are the world is in disarray around you and no one--let alone a horde of flesh-eating zombies--is going to stop and wait for you to charge your camera battery. But Diary of the Dead’s Jason (Josh Close) doesn’t care. His top priority is keeping the camera rolling. He’ll just let his girlfriend (Michelle Morgan) do all the dirty work for him.
You’re more inclined to split up.
Nothing good ever comes from splitting up in a horror movie, but Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson) and his crew have just one night to complete an episode of Grave Encounters in the Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, so in order to record enough footage and paranormal activity, they’ve got to maximize their efforts. Trouble is, sending folks off on their own in a haunted hospital won’t bring in more material because your crew is much more likely to get picked off working alone.
You’ll be obligated to keep filming.
Call it cliché, but every so often the rest of the world needing to see what went down really does apply, so just make sure you’re not the sucker with the camera in your hands when a mysterious virus rips through an apartment complex and turns the residents into rabid killers, forcing the CDC to quarantine all the infected as well as the survivors inside.
V/H/S/2 – “Safe Haven”
There are cameras everywhere.
Whether you’re the subject or not, if you’re participating in the making of a movie within a horror movie, you’ll make your way into the spotlight at some point because the cameras are always on and they’re everywhere. Even if you’re not expecting an interviewee to snap, lunge and go for your throat, at least steer clear of discussing relationship drama while donning a button cam.
Blair Witch Project
Some evil entities are camera shy.
If you’re making a movie about a rumored witch and things seem to be going well, think again. Just because your subject isn’t delivering camera-friendly bumps in the night doesn’t mean that she isn’t there. In fact, while you’re busy giving a history lesson, she may be working her magic covertly, disorienting you and messing with your mind, making you even more vulnerable to her impending attacks.
Some evil entities are not camera shy.
Then there are the paranormal forces with no sense of control who’d rather make a show of their malicious acts, and sometimes it’s at someone else’s expense. Abalam seemingly enjoys forcing poor Nell (Ashley Bell) to perform for the camera, having her crawl around the house, attack her family, kill a cat and then top it all off with that vicious back bend.
You’ll end up having to say good-bye.
Even if you’re lucky enough to be the last one standing in a found-footage movie, it’s called "found footage" for a reason. If you haven’t been picked off in a flash like all of your friends, you’re probably all alone with some time to kill and a camera in your hand, so what else is there left to do but put the camera the hell down and run for your life.
If you’re footage is edited, it’s for a reason.
If you leave footage of yourself behind and someone else takes the time to cut it together, it’s probably for a reason and in your case, it’s not a good one. In Europa Report, the astronauts aboard the Europa One record their every move in hopes of documenting themselves making history, just not in this manner.
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