The found footage horror subgenre opens audiences up to a completely immersive experience, allowing them to suspend belief like never before. Whether it's surveillance videos, lost documentaries, or chilling home videos, these terrors aren't so easy to shake off after the final scene. But while critics and review sites can argue over the best films in the subgenre 'til the cows come home, what really matters is what the viewers want to see.
We at The Lineup have asked our faithful readers what their favorite found footage flicks are. Be it nostalgia or in-depth analysis, here are the films most commonly named!
The Blair Witch Project
Not that this should come as any surprise, but this film from 1999 ranked number one in our audience survey. Widely considered to be the film that relaunched the found footage subgenre into popularity, the story centers around a group of college students who set out to make a documentary about the legendary Blair Witch. However, as they journey into the Maryland wilderness, the only trace of them that returns is their recorded video.
One reader commented, "The Blair Witch Project is without question the best of all. The rest...are awful imitations."
Hell House LLC
Coming in at a close second is Hell House LLC. This 2015 film follows the opening of a haunted house attraction—and the ensuing tragedy that causes the death of 15 visitors and staff. Five years after these shocking deaths, a documentary crew goes back to the scene to find out what really happened. But are they truly prepared for what they'll find?
This 2012 anthology film takes third place for our readers. A mysterious and unknown individual hires a group of outcasts to break into a decrepit country home and steal a video tape. Once the robbers step foot in the house, they find a corpse, a bay of TVs, and a stockpile of chilling footage.
As Above, So Below
Tying with two other films for fourth most popular found footage flick is As Above, So Below. Released in 2014, this film follows a documentary crew exploring the depths of Paris's catacombs. Tapping into the claustrophobic and macabre setting, the story is loosely based on the seven circles of Hell. And the team experiences real terror when they uncover the dark secret beneath the City of Light.
This Canadian horror film from 2011 taps into the paranormal reality show craze. The production crew of a ghost hunting show locks themself away in a notoriously haunted mental hospital in an attempt to collect evidence of the supernatural. Unfortunately, as the night unfolds, they will find they're recording their final episode...
A wonderful foreign addition to this list, Rec came out in 2007—and hits a little too close to home after the global pandemic. Television reporter Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) is on assignment following fire department workers when the emergency services gets an unusual call. The fire department and television crew arrives at an apartment building, only to be locked inside with something horrifying. Something that seems to be spreading.
Tying for fifth place with the next film on this list is Creep. Different from the shocking, gory, and paranormal scares on this list, this 2014 flick is a deeply unsettling psychological thriller. It follows a videographer who has answered an internet ad for a one-day shoot. His task is to record the final messages of a man dying from a brain tumor. But as his client's behavior becomes increasingly bizarre, the videographer can't help but be suspicious about the truth behind this job.
One reader commenter said, "The best I’ve seen in this sort of genre!"
Funnily enough, this 2008 film is the American remake of Rec, as seen above. Essentially a shot-by-shot recreation of the Spanish film, the biggest difference in this movie is the star power. Angela Vidal is played here by Jennifer Carpenter, who many may recognize from Dexter. A few very minor tweaks differentiate the films, but you're in for the same wild ride with these bloodthirsty virus victims.
Tying for the sixth and final place on the list is the 2008 film Cloverfield. In the midst of a farewell party, New York City is attacked by a hulking monster. Six friends set out into the city to evacuate the chaos, documenting their efforts on their personal camcorder.
Is a found footage list truly complete without Paranormal Activity? Our readers don't seem to think so. Released in 2007, this film launched a franchise that is still churning out new scares. It all begins with a couple that have just moved into a suburban home. Each night, a strange presence comes to disturb them. Will their new surveillance save them, or lead them deeper into danger?