Welcome to the second part of our list Celebrating The Best Hidden Gems of The Found Footage Horror Genre! We covered a lot of ground already, but have just as far to go again in showcasing to you some great films you may not have seen yet. We have monsters, demons, the undead, and even go in to space this entry to bring you sights which should probably remain unseen, yet suspect you may not be able to resist…

Part one of the list: https://www.grimoireofhorror.com/the-yurei/best-found-footage-horror-hidden-gems/

Digging up the Marrow (2014) Dir. Adam Green

Digging up the marrow found footage

“A documentary exploring genre based monster art takes an odd turn when the filmmakers are contacted by a man who claims he can prove that monsters are indeed real.”

I got a kick out of this meta found footage film. It’s maybe a too slow for some viewers, but the pay off was absolutely worth it for me. The subtle special effects of the antagonist work so much in the film’s favor it’s well worth the watch alone. (Sean)

While it’s an interesting well done movie, and it really is, the star of the show here is the art of Alex Pardee for the monster designs. There’s an extra level of meta narrative adding to the authenticity of this one that’s sadly punctured by a recognisable actor surrounded by people playing themselves, but the overall effect still lands well enough. Want a strange creature feature with your found footage? This is the one for you. (Luke)

Last Radio Call (2021) Dir.  Isaac Rodriguez

“On June 30th, 2018, Officer David Serling went missing inside an undisclosed abandoned hospital. Using his recovered body cam footage, his wife attempts to piece together what happened to him on that horrible night.”

Isaac Rodriguez is slowly emerging as one of the best new names in the found footage genre, with The Last Call offering an extremely tense ride shown through both police footage and psuedo-documentary footage. This one is wonderfully tense and unsettling, don’t miss a chance to check it out (Adam)

The McPherson Tape (1989) Dir. Dean Alioto

The Mcpherson Tape

“On a typical fall evening in 1983, a young man was videotaping his niece’s 5th birthday party. As the night’s strange occurrences took place, he kept his video camera running, recording the entire event.”

The beginning of the film spends a lot of time showing the family at dinner, with 3 grown brothers and their aging mother at the center of tensions, and surprisingly real feeling banter. When the main action finally kicks off there are some hilarious scenes, but overall somewhat chilling if you frame it in context to when it was released. When The McPherson Tape made its way into the world it was only 1989, ten years before The Blair Witch Project, which even in 1999 had many viewers fooled. The McPherson Tape has enough authenticity to its family dynamics that it’s easy to see how terrifying this movie could have been to contemporary audiences. (Aubry) 

Incredibly realistic in its visualisation, The McPherson tape resembles an early home video near perfectly. From squabbling brothers arguing over every little thing to unprofessional levels of camera framing, the film is as believable as it gets when creating a natural family environment. Although a handful of scenes are somewhat comical in their delivery due to the film being over 30 years old, this work would undoubtedly be perceived to be real footage at the time of release in 1989. (Jim)

Occult (2009) Dir. Kôji Shiraishi

Occult 2009 Found Footage

“Koji Shiraishi is interested in strange indiscriminate murder at a sightseeing resort. He goes behind the camera to investigate the circumstances surrounding strange occurrences and interview the survivors.”

The most weirdly original film on the list. Koji Shiraishi’s Noroi: The Curse is amazing. Occult, from the same director, is way more wacky and has an ending that is sure to anger some. I personally loved it, and the quirky visuals at the very end. (Sean)

Occult (2009) Koji Shiraishi never runs out of found footage ideas. Following the steps of Noroi: The Curse (2005) is his low-budget mockumentary Occult (2009). While he managed to showcase such thorough elaboration of Japanese folklore in Noroi, Occult is his attestation that he can still do such a thing on tight funding! Juggling mythology, social commentary, and cosmic horror fluidly on a budget-constrained found footage treatment is a feat Shiraishi owned in this film. (Dominic)

Apollo 18 (2011) Dir. Gonzalo López-Gallego 

“Decades-old found footage from NASA’s abandoned Apollo 18 mission, where three American astronauts were sent on a secret expedition, reveals the reason the U.S. has never returned to the moon.”

This film is a guilty pleasure because it’s totally ridiculous. How’d they get cameras to work on the moon? How are the two guys gonna get the film off the moon? I loved it. It’s fun to make fun of. (Sean)

It’s monsters on the moon. I don’t think any found footage film quite manages such an extreme, and good space based horror is pretty thin on the ground, so there’s a very specific niche this covers that you’ll struggle to find anything else quite like it. (Luke)

Lake Mungo (2008) 

Lake Mungo Horror film

After 16-year-old Alice Palmer drowns in a local dam, her family experiences a series of strange, inexplicable events centred in and around their home. Unsettled, the Palmers seek the help of psychic and parapsychologist, who discovers that Alice led a secret, double life. At Lake Mungo, Alice’s secret past emerges.

For a fake documentary, this felt amazingly authentic. Basically, as a found footage fake documentary it made me feel emotions I haven’t experienced before. The ending is heartbreaking and has haunted me for a while now. (Sean)

Any time conversation comes up about films which genuinely scared you, Lake Mungo will resurface. Those who know will give a quiet nod in agreement, whereas most will just ask: “What?” Lake Mungo needs a lot more recognition, as great a job as it has done to keep building momentum it needs to go from merely mentioned to everyone’s watch list. It’s grounded, it’s filled with twists, and it’s ready to gut punch everyone before the credits roll. (Luke)

JeruZalem (2015) Dir. The PAZ brothers

Jeruzalem Found Footage Horror

“When a couple of American young adults fly to Israel to visit the city of Jerusalem, a biblical nightmare falls upon them.”

Okay, let’s address the undead elephant in the room… This movie is marketed with a big “Z”, and with that comes the expectation of zombies. Someone suit did this in a cheap bid for easy attention, and it was a crying shame. This is expressly not a zombie movie. It is instead one of the craziest premises possible for a horror movie that then goes on to actually live up to the concept, right down to a big pay off. I avoided this for the longest time since I expected some low effort zombie movie, and I was kicking myself over it  pretty soon after starting JeruZalem. This may be one of the highest concept ballsiest movies in all of horror, let alone found footage! (Luke)

Hotel Inferno (2013) Dir. Giulio De Santi 

Hotel Inferno Found Footage Horror

“Assigned the easy task of assassinating a couple in a hotel room, instead, a hardened contract killer finds himself fighting for his life in a maze-like place crammed with demonic henchmen. Can he escape from the nightmarish Hotel Inferno?”

Perhaps one of the most extreme films to enter the Found Footage realm, Hotel Inferno boasts some nightmarish special effects and a lot of gross out visuals. The carnage of this series amps up with each sequel, with the most recent release “Castle of Screams” feeling like a trip through hell – De Santi has at least six films planned according to IMDB. For those who love a challenge I would recommend checking the first one out before diving deeper into the series. Undeniably, there is a good dose of f***ed-up shit in this one – if you love extreme cinema and WTF moments of chaos, give this one a shot.  (Adam)

The literal definition of “up shit creek without a paddle”, Hotel Inferno is a non-stop adrenaline fuelled romp into extreme territories. This ceaseless blood-soaked descent into visual madness, all seen through the perspective of our main protagonist, is an extensive slog into the depths of hell and all the horrors associated with it. Whilst not having the strongest of writing at times, the film more than makes up for this with pure carnage in the most gratifying of ways. Although, this one may be for more seasoned veterans of horror and is in no way for the weak of stomach. (Jim)

The Banshee Chapter (2013) Dir. Blair Erickson

Banshee Chapter Found Footage

“Journalist Anne Roland explores the disturbing links behind her friend’s sudden disappearance, an ominous government research chemical, and a disturbing radio broadcast of unknown origin.”

There’s an interesting grounding in reality with a documentary approach, but it falls down a little by being more in the found footage “style”. It confused me for a while by seeming to have a cameraman, but it’s just the audience point of few acting like one. Despite some interesting ideas and a pretty interesting monster it ultimately underwhelmed me. It may land different for others though, as it’s a mixed bag which does have some strong points. (Luke)

Based on H.P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond, The Banshee Chapter is a found-footage horror film that will delight both history buffs and conspiracy theorists with its deep, insightful approach into Project MK-Ultra and the CIA’s experiments with mind control. Featuring a pitch-perfect Katia Winter, a terrifying creature and solid, documentary style writing it alternates shocks with restraint to great effect. This is an eclectic mix which sneaks in everything from shortwave radio transmissions to Hunter S. Thompson that results in an absorbingly scary mystery. (Mihail)

Salvage (2015) Dir. Sherad Anthony Sanchez

Salvage Found Footage Horror

“A news team investigating rumors of aswang killings in a remote barrio are attacked by a group of soldiers, forcing them to run for their lives in the deeps of the forest, where more mystery and danger lay in wait.”

A heavy and difficult entry into this list, Salvage turns systematic abuse within the military into an object of horror as a group of documentarians are hunted in the jungle. The conclusion of the film is a wonderful work of experimentalism with an ending that leaves things open ended for the viewer. A devastating trip into the lowest and worst of humanity, but one that is certainly worth taking. (Adam)

Part of what makes Salvage so enjoyable, not to mention intensely terrifying, is that it utterly avoids all predictability. The horror mounts and mounts, often dipping its toe into the surreal, dispelling any and all sense of comfort right until the very last moment. The acting is superb and the framing is perfect for capturing the intensity and chaos of every scene without inducing nausea. Make sure to check out this must-see entry into the found footage genre from the emerging horror powerhouse, the Philippines. (Aubry)

Frankenstein’s Army (2013) Dir. Richard Raaphorst

Frankenstien's Army

Toward the end of World War II, Russian soldiers pushing into eastern Germany stumble across a secret Nazi lab, one that has unearthed and begun experimenting with the journal of one Dr. Victor Frankenstein. The scientists have used the legendary Frankenstein’s work to assemble an army of super-soldiers stitched together from the body parts of their fallen comrades – a desperate Hitler’s last ghastly ploy to escape defeat.

It stood out to me instantly that the Found Footage premise, the reason everything is being recorded, is really strong and well grounded. There’s some pretty effective depictions of the horrors of war here, but what you’re really here to see is the imaginative practical effect monsters. And you won’t be disappointed on that front! (Luke)

Diary of the Dead (2007) Dir. George Romero

Diary of the Dead

A group of young film students run into real-life zombies while filming a horror movie of their own.

Diary of the Dead is the perfect hybrid zombie movie, announcing the onslaught of zombie deconstructions of the following decade. Decrying the corruption of media, Romero’s cult hit makes it a point to have every character be more than they appear initially: Jason, a somewhat egotistical filmmaker, is also a straight-edge idealist. Debra’s growing depression is painful to watch. The professor is, surprisingly, a great person to be around. The social commentary cuts like razorblades, complementing the documentary, ‘death-wish’ approach to the zombie apocalypse which asks the question: “Who would want to survive in a world like this?” (Mihail)

For better or for worse Romero always changed how he presented his Dead movies, even the original trilogy diverged wildly in tone, scope, and intent (although not quite as wildly as his later entries). Diary is the odd one out by being so similar to the original, don’t let its found footage style compared to the old black and white fool you. This is a rewind in the timeline to the fateful outbreak with some modern trappings, making this an interesting encore from a filmmaker who otherwise refused to stand still telling his stories yet broke that trend to comment on the monsters he pioneered. This goes on to make for some pretty essential watching if you are at all a fan of the zombie subgenre. (Luke)

The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014) Dir. Adam Robitel

Taking of Deborah Logan

What starts as a poignant medical documentary about Deborah Logan’s descent into Alzheimer’s disease and her daughter’s struggles as caregiver degenerates into a maddening portrayal of dementia at its most frightening, as hair-raising events begin to plague the family and crew and an unspeakable malevolence threatens to tear the very fabric of sanity from them all.

The one where some of its themes hit home. The depiction of the disease in the film was done well, as I’ve dealt with similar experiences of this subject in my own family. It’s not all pitch perfect psychological unravelling though as near the end, there’s a scare that packs a punch hard. There is a lot going on in The Taking of Deborah Logan. (Sean)

Straight up, I’m terrified of Alzheimer’s disease. That this leans so heavily into that aspect really gave this an extra edge over any other given possession story. Far more people have seen imagery from this film online than have actually watched it yet, and that’s something every horror fan should get around to fixing. (Luke)

Savageland (2015) Dir. Phil Guidry, Simon Herbert, David Whelan

Savageland Horror film

“wiped out overnight, suspicion falls on the lone survivor. But a roll of photos the survivor took that night tells a different story.”

If you want a breather to the shaky, amateur filming treatment of found footage films, you might want to check this part-mockumentary, part-found ‘photos’ take from directors Phil Guidry, Simon Herbert, and David Whelan. Savageland (2015) takes the subgenre to a whole another level with its use of unearthed photo rolls than discovered video footage. The chronicling of the town massacre through the photographs is a chilling experience every found footage lover should partake! (Dominic)

Savageland is a sneaky one. For most of its runtime it’s an interesting and engaging mockumentary taking you on a journey through the story of a town everyone vanished in. There’s a feeling of distance, of being a step removed, that really leans into the medium it is emulating, like it’s an unsolved mystery style TV program. Then, it takes a turn, and it finds a way to make viewer’s blood run cold… It may actually be genius, I love this movie! (Luke)

A Record of Sweet Murder (2014) Dir. Koji Shiraishi

A record of Sweet Murder film

“Park Sang-Joon (Yeon Je-Wook) was held in a psychiatric facility and charged for a string of bizarre serial murders. Park Sang-Joon then runs away from the facility. He then contacts childhood friend and now journalist Kim So-Yeon (Kim Kkobbi). Park Sang-Joon promises to give her an exclusive if she meets him at an abandoned apartment with a Japanese cameraman. She is in for a horrific shock.”

Found footage devotees might find Koji Shiraishi laborious with his takes on the horror subgenre. A Record of Sweet Murder is his experimental entry to his expanding found footage filmography, as he shot everything in one continuous take. What makes this offering different from his past ones is how he focused on examining his characters’ psyches rather than expanding the story to a larger, contextual mythology. And yet, his attempt is quite successful through slow-burn runtime, compelling acting, a hypertense atmosphere, and a rewarding conclusion. (Dominic)

Afflicted (2015) Dir. Derek Lee & Clif Prowse

Afflicted Found Footage Horror

Two friends’ tour of Europe takes a dark turn when one of them contracts a mysterious illness. They race to find out what it is and how to cure it before the sickness consumes him completely.

This did not do what I expected. At multiple points, no less! It documents a series of strange, and often disturbing, events that should fascinate most horror fans. Taking it stage by stage this is a fascinating walkthrough of a scenario many people will have at least thought of in the abstract, if not full on debated with friends at some point. This is a great one to go in unspoiled, piecing together what is happening being a lot of the fun, so you’re going to have to trust me on that and take the plunge. Avoid summaries and discussions until after you’ve seen what Afflicted has to offer for maximum impact, you won’t regret it. (Luke)

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