Reader beware, you’re in for a scare.
The found footage format lends itself to some of horror’s scariest moments. While the monster reveals are not always crystal clear, that’s what makes them so horrifying. Grainy footage and night vision allow for filmmakers to navigate working with low budgets. And yet they still pack a massive punch. Some films such as The Blair Witch Project don’t even show us a monster at all, leaving everything to our wild imaginations.
So I decided to put together a list of some of found footage’s scariest scenes and shots, ones that will stay etched in your brain for days to come. Reader, be warned. Spoilers abound, so proceed with caution.
The Blair Witch Project
So the ending sequence of found footage juggernaut The Blair Witch Project is obviously iconic and terrifying. But, even scarier than the ending is the sequence when the group is sprinting through the woods and Heather screams, “what the fuck is that?” We aren’t shown what she sees, but that only amps up the fear. There’s something horrific stalking them in the woods and it won’t stop until it’s consumed them.
Noroi: The Curse
The reveal at the end of Noroi: The Curse is only part of the harrowing conclusion to an already tense and freaky found footage movie. This pseudo-documentary follows a paranormal researcher who falls into a rabbit hole of borderline-cosmic horror.
Lake Mungo is a sad yet horrific onion of found footage that hasn’t left my mind since I saw it over ten years ago. The film, framed as a pseudo-documentary, plays with the idea of telling the truth and how video is not an infallible piece of evidence. But this shot, found on the cellphone of the deceased Alice, reveals something truly supernatural is at hand.
Australian found footage film The Tunnel is an underrated gem that deserves a shining moment in the spotlight. Its monster even picks up the camera at one point and stalks our protagonists. Also, it’s surprisingly gory. The scene I’ve picked is the reveal of the creature’s shape and shining eyes. While not defined, it’s a hulking mass of terror.
Hell House LLC
Clowns are hell on Earth so naturally, they amp up Hell House LLC’s already-abundant scares. This scene in particular is simple yet so effective. A simple turning of the head of a seemingly inanimate object will get me every time. Especially if it involves a clown crying blood.
Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum
Korean found footage film Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum is one of the scariest movies of the last decade. It’s nonstop nightmare fuel. But the scariest moment, tied with the close-up of the girl with black eyes, is this sequence involving an entity and a single flashlight beam. Found footage expertly uses the flashlight beam to emphasize not only oppressive darkness, but also hone in on the terrifying force lurking in the shadows.
Paranormal Activity 3
The Paranormal Activity franchise delivers its fair share of scares, especially with its use of static cams to capture fleeting shows and fluttering sheets. But Paranormal Activity 3 takes the cake with its use of an oscillating fan to capture something behind the babysitter. It’s a clever way to use the technology of the 1980s to deliver a unique type of scare not seen in found footage.
Megan Is Missing
Big content warning for the clip as the ending of Megan is Missing veers into incredibly graphic territory. But this film, which TikTok rediscovered not too long ago, is a film warning against the horrors of the internet. The first 75% of the film seems unsettling, but then the ending packs a nauseating punch as the stalker’s intentions are fully revealed.
Spanish found footage film [REC] is a gory nightmare where flesh is torn and bones are broken by residents in an apartment building infected with some kind of rabies-like disease. It’s brutal for its entire duration, but the reveal of what’s living in the building’s attic again packs that final punch that solidified [REC] as one of the best found footage movies of all-time.
I won’t say much because this is the final sequence of The Borderlands, or Final Prayer. But let’s just say I couldn’t stomach rewatching this film for almost a decade. The ending is one of the most brutal I’ve ever seen in a horror film full stop.