Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Rundown of the 13 (plus) Best Horror Movies I've Seen in the Past Year
[13 of 13]
The Found Footage Slot

And we wrap up the 2012 list with a three-way tie!
I love these films, particularly since I had to slog through quite a number of mediocre and uninspired found footage titles this year. These are the ones that stood far above the rest of the shakycam horror hordes…
Please welcome them into the ¡Qué Horror! fold…

(January 2012)

Brought to us by a crowd of familiar genre names (most of whom are also quite at home on the ¡Qué Horror! front) and tied together by a concept from Bloody Disgusting’s Brad Miska, V/H/S takes on two standard horror sub-genres, one (found footage) currently more popular in the mainstream than the other (horror anthology), and does both of them exceedingly proud.
Surrounded by the preponderance of mediocre and derivative found footage titles in this day and age, V/H/S crashes the party and kicks all of the bland and terribly unimaginative pretenders in the ‘nads, planting a decisive flag to prove that the form isn’t just a way for Hollywood to make a quick profit from a low production cost, but can also take the audience to some really strange and interesting places. (Even when you may guess where the story’s headed--which happened to me a number of times--the end result is still worth seeing and still holds some startling moments.)

The segments are, to wit:

“Tape 56,” directed by Adam Wingard and written by Simon Barrett, who brought us fellow ¡Qué Horror! 2012 title, A Horrible Way To Die, and who also both appear in the fragmented segment which acts as the connective tissue of the anthology;

“Amateur Night,” helmed by one-third of The Signal directing team, David Bruckner, and written by Bruckner and Nicholas Tecosky;

“Second Honeymoon,” written and directed by Ti West, who brought us past ¡Qué Horror! title, The House of the Devil, as well as The Innkeepers. This one stars Joe Swanberg, from A Horrible Way To Die, who also directs another V/H/S segment (see below);

“Tuesday the 17th,” written and directed by Glenn McQuaid, who brought us I Sell the Dead, a previous effort I must confess, I wasn’t too overly fond of;

“The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger,” directed by Joe Swanberg and written by Simon Barrett;

and “10/31/98,” written and directed by the Radio Silence collective of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, and Chad Villella, who also appear in the segment.

Truly exceptional work from all concerned, and I, for one, am excited to see what all these gentlemen have up their sleeves next…

(March 2012)

These days, the found footage film is like the zombie film: ubiquitous.
Seemingly, all I have to do is turn around, and there’s at least one making the rounds, there’s at least one waiting to be released, at least one that’s deep in post-production, at least one that’s filming, at least one that’s being cast, at least one that’s in development, ad nauseam.
Given the sheer amount of terribly mediocre titles that quickly begin to blur into each other, it’s sometimes quite the task to find the ones that deserve to be noted, to be set apart from the rest of the hordes.
Well, allow me to honour Howie Askins’ Evidence with that distinction.

What begins as an amateur documentary about camping gradually becomes what initially seems to be a rather good “strange goings-on in the woods” shakycam horror deal, then, ultimately, becomes something more.
I’ve always greatly admired found footage films that are not only well-made and well-executed examples of the form, but are also ambitious pieces in their own right, and Evidence is certainly that.
Like [REC] before it, there’s a certain point in Evidence’s running time where the constricting walls of the found footage genre are blown wide open as the audience is given a glimpse of the bigger picture within which the film’s POV narrative exists.

As always, I don’t wish to spoil anything for the potential viewer, so let me just leave it at that: the ¡Qué Horror! seal of approval on Evidence.
May that be enough for you to check it out.

(August 2011)

September 3rd 2010.
3 walkers disappear on Dartmoor.
The footage they left behind has been edited to tell their story.

This is what the film’s opening tells us, and so far, so found footage familiar.
But here, writer/director Richard Parry services the form in the most excellent manner by proving that you can make a shakycam horror film that adheres to the genre’s “classic” template that’s actually worth watching.
Is the scenario familiar? Yes. Nonetheless, A Night in the Woods is a gripping and nastily effective found footage scarefest that will once again prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that the outdoors is a very, very, very nasty place.

(V/H/S OS courtesy of; Evidence DVD cover art courtesy of; A Night in the Woods UK quad courtesy of

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