Found Footage Films Worth Watching

A camcorder set up to film on a pink background casting pink and blue shadows.

Since the release of The Blair Witch Project—undoubtedly the most well-known of found footage films—the subgenre has really taken off.

Today there are countless movies with that signature shaky camera work, dropped or skewed angles, and changing POVs as different characters “take over.” A large part of found footage films’ appeal is the eerie realism: when done properly, it truly looks like it came straight from an average person’s camcorder.

Like all movies, however, cast and story matter too. In a post-Blair bandwagon craze, the subgenre saw plenty of lackluster attempts, as well as some spectacular ones. Here are the best found footage films you can’t afford to miss.

 

 

Paranormal Activity (2007)

Genre: Horror

IMDB Rating: 6.3/10

Starring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat

Where To Watch: Hulu, Sling TV, fuboTV, Amazon Prime, Showtime

A young couple moves into a new house and spends a fun night with an Ouija board. Soon after, they begin to notice increasingly strange events.

Micah sets up cameras around the house, hoping to catch a glimpse of whatever is happening at night. His findings turn out to be much more disturbing than either of them could have expected.

As the first standalone picture in its franchise, Paranormal Activity not only set the stage for a much larger story, but rejuvenated the trend itself.  A second wave of found footage films quickly followed its release.

 

[REC] (2007)

Genre: Horror, Zombie

IMDB Rating: 7.4/10

Starring: Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza

Where To Watch: Sling TV

A reporter covering a story decides to go into a building with her cameraman after reports of strange activities from firefighters.

They soon realize that the military and police have barricaded everyone inside the building, and the residents are growing aggressive and violent.

 

Cloverfield (2008)

Genre: Science Fiction

IMDB Rating: 7/10

Starring: Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas

Where To Watch: Hulu, Sling TV, Amazon Prime, Philo

A Godzilla-esque alien lands in New York City and begins to destroy it with unbridled fury. The main characters race around the city, trying to evade the onslaught while rescuing a trapped friend from her apartment.

Cloverfield is generous with jumpscares, but concentrates largely on the action: it spends a fair amount of time running through the city. Adding to the tension, audiences catch mere glimpses of the alien for the majority of the film, as characters record it at a distance or while moving.

 

Marble Hornets (2009-2014)

Genre: Horror, Suspense

IMDB Rating: 8.2/10

Starring: Troy Wagner, Joseph DeLage

Where To Watch: YouTube

While Marble Hornets is a series rather than a movie, it’s still one of the best found footage pieces out there.

This web series introduced the world to Slenderman, the enormously tall, faceless man invented by the internet itself.

In Marble Hornets, Jay Merrick struggles to uncover the truth of what happened to his friend Alex, who became wracked with paranoia during the filming of a student movie.

Digging through Alex’s footage, Jay discovers his friend was stalked by “The Operator,” a mysterious figure whose presence seems to scramble cameras and audio, cause strange events, and drive its victims to the brink of insanity.

 

Troll Hunter (2010)

Genre: Fantasy

IMDB Rating: 7/10

Starring: Otto Jespersen, Johanna Morch

Where To Watch: Amazon Prime

University students decide to make a documentary about an illegal bear poacher. They get far more than they bargained for, when they learn the poacher is actually hunting trolls that are threatening the local populace.

This fantastic film skirts the line between fantasy and horror, but it gives audiences a fascinating look at Norwegian fairy tales.

 

Grave Encounters (2011)

Genre: Supernatural horror

IMDB Rating: 6.1/10

Starring: Sean Rogerson, Ashleigh Gryzko

Where To Watch: Tubi, Crackle, Vudu, Amazon Prime

Although somewhat sarcastic and self-referential, this movie focuses on a small crew of people who decide to wait overnight in a long-abandoned psychiatric hospital, waiting to catch some paranormal activity on tape.

As you might expect, the plan goes sideways when the ghosts turn out to be much more than they can contend with.

 

The Conspiracy (2012)

Genre: Thriller

IMDB Rating: 6.3/10

Where To Watch: Tubi, Amazon Prime

Starring: Aaron Poole, James Gilbert

Two men decide to make a documentary about Terrance, a conspiracy theorist who believes certain tragic events throughout the world, such as WWI or the September 11th attacks, are really the machinations of a corrupt government.

When Terrance goes missing, the documentarians decide to investigate his wild claims further—and become part of a conspiracy not even Terrance could have imagined.

 

The Taking Of Deborah Logan (2014)

Genre: Supernatural horror

IMDB Rating: 6/10

Starring: Jill Larson, Anne Ramsey

Where To Watch: Tubi, Sling TV, Amazon Prime

This documentary follows an elderly woman named Deborah who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Her strange symptoms are initially dismissed by her doctor as part of the disease.

As the film progresses, the symptoms grow stranger; Deborah’s actions soon defy all logic and explanation, concerning the film crew. When it becomes undeniable that she’s possessed, the crew races to stop Deborah from completing her sinister plans.

 

Hell House LLC (2015)

Genre: Horror

IMDB Rating: 6.4/10

Starring: Ryan Jennifer, Danny Bellini

Where To Watch: Tubi, Sling TV, Amazon Prime

In everyone’s worst carnival nightmare, a fake haunted house experiences a tragic accident when fifteen employees and haunted house attendees are murdered.

The film shows the events leading up to, and including, the horrific event, and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats the entire time.

 

The Phoenix Incident (2015)

Genre: Science Fiction

IMDB Rating: 5/10

Starring: Liam O’Brien, Travis Willingham

Where To Watch: Tubi, Pluto TV, Sling TV, Amazon Prime

Documenting a search for mysterious lights from a UFO, The Phoenix Incident is a tense film about brash and curious men who believe that they can take on the world, only to find the consequences of their actions are out of this world.

The script is kind of tropey, but the quick camera cuts and funny lines make this movie worth the watch.

 

via GIPHY

While some film critics dismiss found footage films as cheap or lazy, the subgenre has proven, time and again, to be an audience favorite. When realistic POVs, natural acting styles, and heart-stopping tension combine with solid stories and characters, the result is a film that scares and unsettles far beyond the screen.

For more movie recommendations, check out the best zombie movies, psychological thrillers, or apocalypse films now streaming on Netflix, Prime, and other major platforms.