Ready to be scared?
While I am 100% that spooky bitch all year ’round, it becomes more socially acceptable to spend a whole day watching horror movies in October. So of course I take advantage of this, and I hope you are, too. The only problem is that sometimes, the number of horror choices can be overwhelming. Well, I’m here today to offer a helping hand specifically when it comes to one of the scariest subgenres in horror, found footage.
Found footage wants to convince us it’s real. Just look at the virality of The Blair Witch Project, a film that momentarily convinced millions that it was essentially a snuff film. A good found footage movie makes you feel dirty for watching it, like you should burn it so there’s no evidence you ever had it in your home or brain.
So, I’ve put together the perfect, in my opinion, found footage marathon to terrify you this Halloween. I’ve assembled them in watching order for the optimal viewing experience. We start out with some classics and some fun, then slowly descend into terror and disgust.
The Blair Witch Project
You have to start off a good horror movie marathon with a classic, one that you’ve definitely seen but still love to watch. While The Blair Witch Project is terrifying and has its fair share of horror set at night, the film also uses daylight to create its tense and uncomfortable atmosphere. That use of daylight is why I like to make a case for it being watched during the day (I promise I’m not just a scaredy cat). That weaponization of daytime and how even when the witch isn’t attacking them directly, they’re still fighting each other, makes this the perfect way to set a creepy tone even with the sun high in the sky.
The Andy Baker Tape
This new found footage film from Bret Lada is required viewing this Halloween. It’s a perfect marriage of family drama, food porn, and abject horror that hits on just why found footage is such an innovative subgenre. Lada plays food vlogger Jeff who films his first time meeting his half-brother Andy Baker. After a tentative bond is forged, the two go on a food-fueled journey to film Jeff’s pilot for an actual TV show. But, how well does Jeff really know Andy? It may sound like a predictable story, but the chemistry and energy between the two leads trump all else. It’s creepy, it’s endearing, and it’s perfect to ease into the scarier films that await you in this marathon…
Ghostwatch initially aired on Halloween in 1992 on the BBC. It was marketed as a real news broadcast documenting an actual haunting in the home of a mother and her two daughters. What follows is a proto-Paranormal Activity horrorshow where both security and handheld cameras capture what’s actually happening to this family. The actors are actual news anchors, so they were familiar faces to the entire country and lent even more of an air of authenticity to the program. While we know now that it’s not real, it’s still a terrifying piece of horror filmmaking that deserves wider love and acclaim.
Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum
At this point in the evening, you’ve been a little spooked but nothing too scary. This is when we shift into truly terrifying territory. You’ll start with the 2018 Korean found footage movie Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum which follows a group of YouTube stars and their willing volunteers who visit the actually haunted Gonjiam Asylum for their biggest livestream yet. But of course, they don’t take the haunting seriously until it’s too late. Some of the imagery created by Jung Bum-shik in this film is so deeply unsettling that I was hesitant to turn off the lights. There isn’t just one pivotal moment of terror. Once the horror starts, it just never stops, leaving you exhausted, scared, and cowering under a blanket.
The Poughkeepsie Tapes
This one is for my extreme horror fans out there who want to add a little shock to their marathons. John Erick Dowdle’s 2007 pseudo-documentary is a deep dive into the depravity of a faceless serial killer who has left hundreds of tapes to be found by the police. Talking heads are interspersed with the tapes, which document the killer’s growth as well as his meticulous process of stalking and torturing his victims. This is a harrowing watch, and it’s relentless in its cruelty so just be warned before pressing play.
Hell House LLC
It’s only fitting to end a Halloween found footage marathon with a Halloween-set film that’ll also chill you to the core. In Hell House LLC, a group of haunt creators moves into the abandoned Abbadon Hotel to build their next event, which needs to be a success. As they start constructing the haunt, strange things start to happen involving sentient clown dolls, mysterious music, and strange disappearances. The film is framed as an investigation of what happened to the four people who set out to transform the Abbadon Hotel into an attraction. The sheer amount of unsettling imagery in this one makes in both the perfect way to punctuate a movie marathon, but also pairs wonderfully with the twisted sensibility of The Poughkeepsie Tapes.