After screening The Last Horror Movie last Friday, it occurred to me that this ‘found footage’ lark has been around for a good while as horror trends go. Is it about time to draw a line under it?
After The Blair Witch Project gave the genre a $248 million kick start in 1999, it took until 2007’s Paranormal Activity for studios to really pounce on the format as a way to make money. That’s not to say that there weren’t any FF films made in the years between, The Last Horror Movie (2004), Incident At Loch Ness (2004)and The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) are a few examples of the better ones. But it was with the arrival of Paranormal Activity that the subgenre had it’s franchise.
Fast forward to the halcyon days of 2012/2013! It seemed like every horror film released had been made on a camcorder, iphone or discovered in the video tape collection of a psychopath…and boy did we love them! We embraced them with loving arms, clutching them close to our breasts and hugging them tight until they turned blue in the face.
The Devil Inside (2012) with your $101 million worldwide gross on a $1 million production budget, touched our hearts. Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) 4ever rented a place in our psyche with its $142 million worldwide gross on a $5 million production budget and lest we forget that found footage helped restore The Wayans Brothers back to cinematic greatness with A Haunted House (2013) with its $60 million worldwide gross. It was like the party would never end…
And even when you started to stumble with Devil’s Due (2013 – $36 million), Paranormal Activity The Marked Ones (2014 – $90 million) and A Haunted House 2 (2014 – $23 million)…it still wasn’t over. The Pyramid ($12 million) and As Above/So Below (2014 – $40 million)….well it was getting hard to stick by you.
Could it be that the studios are coming to the same conclusion that most of us already knew? Could it be that the script, the acting and the direction are more important than the format?
Or has this cycle of horror simply run its course?
Compare this to the slasher film boom of the 1970s/1980s. The generally received Golden Age of the slasher movie runs from 1978 (with the release of Halloween) and it hacked and slashed its way through teenagers until 1984 (with the release of A NIghtmare On Elm Street). Six years of teenagers being punished for their promiscuity.
Or the boom in the dubiously named Torture Porn films of the 2000s which tied you to a chair and chopped bits off you during its Golden Age of 2003 – 2009 in films like Hostel (2005), The Devil’s Rejects (2005) and the Saw franchise (2003 – 2010).
Did we arrive at the end of the Found Footage Golden Age in 2013? Is the six year cycle a standard for horror? Is 2007 – 2013 the Golden Age of the Found Footage Horror film? Have I run out of questions to ask?
I guess we’ll find out once Paranormal Activity Ghost Dimension arrives this October to see whether our appetite for Found Footage has been well and truly satiated.