9 POV Movies (or Found Footage)
This style is very, very tricky to pull off. I mean in reality, imagine you’re out with your friends videotaping them doing something stupid and the end of the world happens. Are you really going to run around filming stuff, screaming “Someone has to see this!” as your friends are being eaten by giant ancient squids from space? Just so you know, YouTube is probably down at that point, so no one really cares.
The hardest part is coming up with that thing that makes people believe that someone might continually film this incident. “Quarantine” did a decent job of that – and no, I don’t believe “Rec” did. I’m not a huge fan of American remakes of foreign films, but “Rec” just wasn’t that great and the lead actress was utterly atrocious.
“Cloverfield” I have mixed feelings about. There’s nothing more fun that a giant monster movie, but when you push your monster into the background and focus on these pretty white people trying to survive, I felt a little lost. I get the idea, and I respect the idea – take something that’s a well known genre and do something different, I was complaining about people not doing that earlier – so for that fact I appreciate the movie. I like it didn’t explain too much, but I didn’t care for the overhype promotional campaign. Like I said, very mixed feelings. Good on the one hand, and literally bad on the backside of that same hand and one the other, the opposite – or something like that.
“Diary of the Dead” an example why this style should be shot in the head. What an undead turd of a movie. From the clichéd (and badly acted) characters to the way they conveniently placed the “real” camera to catch those scary zombie moments cinematically. This movie should never have been made, if you remove the POV element this was an incredibly sad, tired and just unnecessary attempt at a zombie movie by a man who should have known better.
“V/H/S” was kind of amusing, I think only because it was several short POV movies instead of one long movie – this is the only reason this movie worked, because instead of trying to set up a scenario and continue it for 90 minutes or more, it was like “Tale of the Unexpected” or “The Twilight Zone” in a series of pretty much unrelated freaky ideas that didn’t have enough time to wear themselves out. It also did a decent job of justifying the filming and even simulating video noise and tape or digital courruption.
“The Last Exorcism” is a good example of a good premise gone horribly lame. It started off kind of interesting, got into somewhat promising territory and then suddenly absolutely nothing really interesting at all happened until it was finally over – thankfully. A pretty dull movie in retrospect, although they did that typical best justification of it being filmed possible, until the very last shot which really was pandering and probably would never have actually happened.
I’ll only mention “Paranormal Activity” to say how much I hate those movies. Unscary and boring as fuck on a stick. Ooh, look at the scary floating pool cleaner!!! Fuck you to those who made those movies – you’ve just made other assholes think they can do it too. Thanks. These movies are a good example of how “found footage” movies don’t work when you think of the logic behind them. There was a horrible incident and people died and there’s footage, let’s creatively edit it like a horror movie since we’re doing this for commercial purposes instead of, in reality of the logic of movie, for an investigation into the incident, they’ll enjoy that. 6 seconds of black footage and a jump scare? That should really help those government officials figure out what happened. Piss off. These movies are just terribly made and should stop now.
Like the aforementioned “Monster” if you’re not bringing something new, don’t do it. You can’t outdo “Cloverfield” so why bother? This genre/style is already near dead, there’s only so many “things” that can be done POV style. So far we’ve had (and this is going way back kids) Cannibals, Witches, Zombies, Outbreaks, Dinosaurs, Giant Monsters, Trolls and I’m sure a who slew I can’t think of offhand. Hell, there’s a Japanese movie (I haven’t seen it) called “P.O.V. – A Cursed Movie”.
There’s so much to complain about this style, and nearly everyone does. “Video cameras don’t do that” and blah, blah, blah – and they’re right. Take a camera, record something and shake the shit out of the camera. Shut it off, turn it back on and record again. Throw it at a wall…Now watch the footage, I guarantee none of those little glitches and artifacts you see in movies will show up. How hard is it to replicate that accurately? Not at all, do what I just said and make note of it, there…your work is done. To be fair, one or two movies have done it right – congratulations to them.
I have yet to really see a POV movie that I really felt worked and I never once questioned “why is this person still filming?” It’s a great idea, I understand the psychology of it. It makes you feel like it’s happening to you, “ooh, much more scary”. It’s a nice tool – unfortunately it’s a simple seeming style. So simple that shitty little indie studios try to do it to pull it off focusing too much on their annoying, poorly written characters and not enough on the actual “scary” stuff. When all you have is a handful of shots involving your horror element or “bad guy” you’ve failed, you’ve failed so miserably you should have the camera ripped from your pathetic little hands and be beaten with it – while it’s being filmed with said camera. That would be an awesome movie.
UPDATE: Since I originally wrote that last paragraph I finally got to watch “Troll Hunter” and god-damn, what an awesome movie. Now this was a movie about three students doing a documentary, so it’s kind of like “Quarantine” and “The Last Exorcism” in that it justifies its need to be POV (even though it would’ve worked as a normal movie) and it did it well. I felt like I was watching a documentary, actual footage that might have been shot. There were no sloppy cuts for action or pauses like those retarded “Paranormal Activity” movies (man, did I mention those things suck shit?), there were no weird “glitches” to hide stuff – you want documentary style footage about trolls? Here it is. However I’m not sure how the footage was supposed to have been “found” and ultimately “released” but who the hell cares after seeing a guy take on a 200ft troll with nothing more than a glorified flashlight. This was a POV or “found footage” movie done well, and done VERY well at that. Very rarely do I see a movie I’m jealous of and “Troll Hunter” was one of them.