This October, Variety enlisted some our favorite spooky content creators to share their scary movie essentials. Joseph and Vanessa Winter, whose film “Deadstream” made a splash on the festival circuit and earned rave reviews from critics, shared their picks for the best found footage films of all time.
The found footage style has led to some of horror’s biggest hits, from the cultural juggernaut that was 1999’s “The Blair Witch Project” — which introduced found footage to the mainstream — to the microbudget sensation of the first “Paranormal Activity” movie in 2007. Although the first-person perspective can lead to some huge scares, there was a time after “Activity” where Hollywood invested a bit too much in the genre and delivered an abundance of films in the style, many of which felt like cheap cash-ins that lacked the flair and passion of the technique at its best.
Luckily, writer-directors Joseph and Vanessa Winter are helping to revive the perception of found footage with two big projects. First, their festival hit “Deadstream,” about a disgraced YouTuber who plans to film himself staying in a haunted house overnight, debuted on Shudder as one of the platform’s key October releases. The duo also have the final segment in the just-released “V/H/S/99,” the fifth installment in the found footage anthology series which just debuted on Shudder. Both projects use found footage in inventive ways and prove that there’s plenty of creativity left in the art form. The husband-and-wife creative team were the perfect pair to curate Variety’s list of the best found footage films of all time.
“I’m excited for the future of found footage,” Vanessa said. “I think that the genre spurs creativity in breaking some rules, which is something horror does anyway. Sometimes the restriction can birth a really new and creative idea.”
Joseph also noted that, despite what detractors might think, there are plenty of unique challenges in creating a film in this style that might not be immediately evident.
“I want to tell filmmakers that if you’re going to make a found footage movie, make sure you understand it is not easier,” he said. “I’ve talked to other people who have made found footage movies since then, and they would agree that it’s actually more difficult in some ways.”