With Blair Witch heading into theaters this weekend, it’s worth remembering that the original movie changed the face of horror in more ways than making up-nostril photography somehow acceptable to the world at large—instead, it introduced a craze for “found-footage horror” that has yet to disappear entirely, with entire subsequent franchises basing their very existence on the idea. Before you head to the theater to wonder just how these tapes were discovered and how well they transfer to the big screen, here are some more recent examples of extremely unlucky cameramen to explore in the safety of your own home.
Where were you when the monsters attacked New York? If this movie is any sign, the answer is likely “Running around screaming and probably getting killed, while remembering to film all the important plot details even if you never quite get around to finding out where all the monsters came from… Available on Hulu
DEAD SET (2008)
What is worse than brainless reality TV? Brain-eating reality TV, as this wonderful British mini-series—written by Black Mirror’s Charlie Brooker—proves, with the Big Brother house being the only safe place in the country after a zombie outbreak.
No matter how strange you thought Norway was before watching this movie, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll think it’s at least twice as strange afterwards. What else to expect from a movie that’s part horror-monster movie and part comedy… and it’s not entirely clear which is which.
Never mind the found footage, here’s the horror anthology that is based around multiple creepy video tapes filled with horror stories that just happen to have been caught on camera. Come for the tape heist, stay for the increasingly weird and wonderful stories they watch.
THE SACRAMENT (2013)
Horror of a less obvious—but more disturbing—variety can be found in this movie about a religious cult and the ill-fated attempt for one documentary crew to not only expose its leader for the fake that he is, but also rescue one of their family members from the compound. Things don’t go well.
MR. JONES (2013)
Turns out, there can be good reasons why some people choose to be recluses. Take, for example, the eponymous artist at the heart of this movie. There’s much more to him than meets the eye, but the mystery at the heart of the story isn’t what anyone expects—least of all the documentarians trying to explore Jones’ mystique.
THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN (2014)
Spoilers for anyone who already finds themselves unnerved by Alzheimer’s disease: you probably shouldn’t check out this scary story, in which a woman suffering from the disease turns out to have something else — and not a good something else — going on inside her body as well.
THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT (2014)
If you like to go to haunted houses to see what’s new in the world of irrational terrors, then prepared to have your weird-ass hobby challenged by this movie, which suggests that you’re not always alone in a haunted house. And that they know how many houses you’ve visited…
Finally, someone lays the hidden horrors behind Craiglist bare in this take on the scary stranger idea that gleefully embraces all of the cliches you expect it to have, and then goes even further. All this from Mark Duplass, too. He seems so… well, cuddly and sanctimonious on The Mindy Project.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION (2015)
In its latest incarnation, the Paranormal Activity franchise takes its found footage gimmick a stage further by making the discovery of footage part of the found footage story unfolding on screen. Boxes within boxes, and each box holds a demon possession, because it’s Paranormal Activity and of course it does. Available on Hulu