“I have a question: In general, What would a narrative filmmaker’s purpose be for deciding to use the “first person” or “found footage” style? As opposed to a more traditional style or mockumentary style etc. What does that style bring to a film that makes it necessary to tell a story that way?”
Many purposes, I guess. A few that come immediately to mind:
1) Authenticity: Remember the whole “But this is a true story” trope of the fireside tale? Many horror movies attempt to pull this off with their stupid “based on a true story” advertising which anybody with even half a cell of critical thinking in their brain would realize is pure dooky, but claim that the footage was “found” and it at least makes it seem a little more immediate in terms of style. Worked damn well for Blair Witch Project, really, there are still people who believe that people actually found that footage in the woods or something. (But then again, people still believe The Texas Chain Saw Massacre actually happened, when it’s merely “based”, very loosely at that, on Ed Gein and a few other tropes*).
2) First person. Why not?
3) To make a statement on the Gaze, looking, voyeurism, camera addiction, you name it. From Peeping Tom to Diary of the Dead, it’s a popular subject. Half horror theory is that, which is why I’m keeping this short.
4) Instigate the viewer. Instigate them! Make them feel like they’re party to the production of the horror! Make them guilt!
5) Lower production values excusable.
6) “Realism”. No attempt at an “objective camera”, it’s all subjects.
Less immediate ideas:
7) Actors like interacting with “things”. Give ’em a camera, see what they “see” in the plot.
8) Easier to direct, maybe possibly maybe? Tell ‘em “shoot in that general direction and say this!” and you don’t have to worry about if it’s a close-up or the lighting is too off or anything. On the other hand, who the hell knows what they’ll end up pointing the damn camera at.
9) Because people are more and more comfortable with hand-held camera, but the hand-held camera itself provides its own jump-cuts to unnerve the viewer.
10) Faster to direct, maybe possibly maybe? Don’t need to worry if the camera’s smooth, no tracking shots or dollies or tripods.
For me, I like the idea but I think few people really can pull it off without just irritating the viewer (instead of horrifying them). I have a particularly strong ability to sit through some of the most dizzying, stroboscopic, high-contrast, and head-ache inducing flashy crap, so for the most part it doesn’t impress me unless it really makes my eyes WANT to see what’s going on (something that Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield just don’t do for me, but Outer Space and Diary of the Dead do). Others want the camera to sit for more than a fraction of half a second. I’d like to try my hand at it someday, but my more immediate aesthetic concerns is creating an image that somebody wants to look at, myself.
*"Based on a true story" means, I’ve discovered after much thought, that the “story” is definitely a story, so in that case it certainly is a story and undeniably a story, so no one can say it’s not a story, thus it’s “truly” a story, and this script is based on it. That’s the only way I can figure An American Haunting can get away with that crap.
Martyrs was sick. Very chilling. Carl Dreyer is spinning in his tomb.
REC. Unbelievably horrifying. Absolutely fantastic.
Hello, Lin K
>>christophe gans’ “le pact des loups” (brotherhood of the wolf) and “silent hill”. brotherhood is a bit outdated i guess.. <<
Haven’t seen SILENT HILL but BROTHERHOOD is outrageous fun. Not sure I’d quite consider it horror, but then I’m not quite sure what I’d consider it …
Your right to a certain extent, but at least Bub had some build up in the lab. I just think Diary has zero memorable characters and it’s the weakest in the series because of it.
I have a suggestion of what not to watch- Friday The 13th (2009)
What a joke…
Just watched [REC]. I loved it. Knock over my soda scary.
i like to watch Dead Alive several times in the month of October.Dog Soldiers is not all that recent, or scary, but still it’s worth watching.
of course The Host and Let the Right One In…
Gross and fucked up – Torso or Teeth
Artistic – Let the Right One In, The Orphanage or 28 Days Later
Fun – Drag Me To Hell or Dead Snow (I cant stress enough how much fun Dead Snow was, but make sure you watch it subbed not dubbed.)
Orphan was actually okay too.
For The Ordeal (Calvaire) fans here, check Vinyan … I think it delivers on all that Calvaire promised, but it’s not exactly “Horror”. More like a dirty beautiful nightmare.
Mum & Dad is fairly disgusting and sinister.
Silent Hill is the New Canon.
Man, I really want to see Lars Von Trier’s latest romp, “Antichrist.” Looks absolutely amazing!
Drag Me To Hell and recently restored Satan’s Bloody Claw.
“Dark Woods” (2003) from Norway, director Pål Øie’s great breakthrough. Dark Woods was recently elected the scariest Norwegian movie ever.
Pål Øie is now out with more evil: “Skjult” (2009)
Martyrs is one of the most brilliant films of recent years. Horror or not.
Thirst (2009) by Chan-wook Park
Lars von Trier’s ANTICHRIST is the most effective horror film ever made.
in my skin
its different from your run of the mill horror
DiB’s above post deserves to be bumped in it’s own right, but I bumped to push The Collector on people, as it comes out on US dvd today. it seemed universally hated on release, but I found it stylish, and it pushes the base buttons which I think good horror does. It’s not really transcendent beyond genre, but is an effective genre film (in my opinion, at least.
Hey I think “The Devils Rejects” too is worth a watch.
“Dread” (2009)…..too is a good one.
28 Weeks Later It was even better to me than 28 Days later.
It’s action, scares, drama, social commentary packed. one of the best horror films of past decade.
The Eclipse (2009).
Not really a horror film per se and throughout, but there were some horror scenes in it that were very effective. One of the first subtle scares gave me serious chills, while some others later in the film made me jump.
The Descent (2005): A cave expedition goes horribly wrong as the explorers find themselves trapped in a dark cavern with a hungry race of glopola-drooling slime-monsters! Creature-feature thrills with psychological chills! Beware the direct-to-video sequel.
Ginger Snaps (2000): Two goth sister discover that puberty can be a real bitch. Bitch as in a female dog, like a wolf, meaning that I’m attempting a pun, but it’s not working. What I mean is that lycanthropy is used as a metaphor for female puberty; sort of like ‘I Was A Teenage Werewolf’ only well made and the humor is intentional. Yeah, that’s it. I think you’ll know what I’m TRYING to say. Just see the damn movie. Oay!
Ginger Snaps: Unleashed (2004): One ups the original by incorporating two puns in one title!
The Human Centipede (2009): John Waters must be kicking himself for not coming up with this one! Seriously, this is actually a lot more artfully-directed and suspense driven then one would assume, based on it’s premise.
Teeth (2007): One problem you may have with this movie is that the “monster” really isn’t all that intimidating; all you really have to do in order to avoid it’s wrath is not rape Dawn (the protagonist). Pretty easy, right? I can not rape Dawn all day. I’m not raping her now and I haven’t ever broken a sweat. Still, if you can imagine ‘Ms.45.’ with a fanged vagina taking the place of Zoë Lund’s firearm than you should enjoy this movie! The ending reminds me of the ending in the first ‘Death Wish’ movie (that is, if Charles Bronson were a teenage girl with several rows of razor sharp teeth in her pussy)!
House Of 1000 Corpses (2003): Like a haunted-house carnival ride created by Lloyd Kaufman and Russ Meyer!
The Devil’s Rejects (2005): This sequel to HO3kC is a great throwback to ’70′s splatter films! Homagsploitation at it’s best!
May (2002): The list just wouldn’t be complete without this one. One of the few slasher movies were you find yourself wanting to hug the maniac!
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006): A highly satirical, zombie-chicken, gross-out comedy, splatter, camp, musical! From Troma…of course!
Hostel (2005): Has some obvious flaws, but has enough genuine creepyness to make up for them.
Hostel 2 (2007): Creepy, gory and even mildly campy!
Trick ‘r Treat (2007): Maybe the best horror-anthology since ‘Creepshow!’
Land Of The Dead (2005): George Romero’s last great zombie movie. (Too bad about ‘diary’)
Martyrs (2008): I hate this movie; it is, however, one of the best horror films I have ever seen. It’s like writer/directer Pascal Laugier somehow brought a film-crew into his subconscious while he was sleeping and had them film his darkest, most horrific nightmare!
High Tension (2005): one of the edgiest and most disturbing slasher films of the century and, yes, the ending makes sense if you think about it…
The Orphan (2009): Finally, a perfect excuse not to adopt! (That’s an in-joke between my mother and myself)
Let The Right one In (2008): Eat your heart out, ‘Twilight!’ (I haven’t seen nor have I read ‘Twilight,’ so I actually have no idea how bad it is, but what the hell, I’ll knock it anyway…)
Scream 3 (2000): The first ‘Scream’ film of the new millennium. Look for cameos by Roger Corman, Kevin Smith and Jay Mewes!
Daybreakers (2009): Original vampire-noir. Some bad dialogue, but it’s easily forgiven.
Ichi The Killer (2001): Off-beat pitch-black comedy horror, crime-drama from the great Takashi Miike (a.k.a, The One Man Troma)! Recommended for strong-stomached viewers with a weird sense of humor!
Three… Extremes (2002): Fruit Chan, Takashi Miike and Chan-Wook Park! Need I say more?
Visitor Q (2002): ‘Teorema’ meets ‘Pink Flamingos!’ only two words can describe it; Holy. Shit.
My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009): I may get some flack for this one, but I liked it almost as much as the original.
Thirst (2009): Chan-Wooks Park’s first romantic-comedy!
The Devil’s Backbone (2001): Great ghost story. Destined to be a classic!
Shutter (2004): The material is not exactly original, but it uses it well, which is more than I can say for the remake. Did I mention that the title is a pun (think; cameras)!
Pighunt (2008): A fun throwback to the 70′s/early 80′s throwbacks to the creature-features of the 50′s.
Jeepers Creepers (2001): Didn’t have very high-hopes for this one (partly due to what I thought was a very stupid title), so imagine my surprise when this turn out to be tense, thrilling and very well-made. Come to think of it, I don’t know why I was so surprised; it was co-produced by Francis Ford Coppola after all!
The Girl Next Door (2007): Hey! The fifties weren’t carefree and innocent at all! YOU LIED TO ME, TV LAND!
Hair High (2004): Another madcap masterpiece of animation from Bill Plympton; featuring the voices of Sarah Silverman, David Carradine, Beverly D’Angelo and ‘The Simpsons’ creator Matt groening! More comedy than horror, but…it’s got skeletons in it!
Final Destination 1& 2 : I also liked these.