So with an Episode of Doctor Who having just tried to do an episode in a found footage style this has made me think about the whole idea of found footage again, basically it makes me ask the question, should we just stop with the whole Found Footage thing? Now I am not claiming that it was the first ever found footage based film but The Blair Witch Project is the first one I can really remember. I remember it more for its advertising campaign and the way they tried to use the advertising and the internet to blur the lines between fiction and reality. I first saw it on a pirate VHS cassette my brother lent me, I had heard bits and pieces about it and have to admit that I was a little confused if it was supposed to be fact or fiction, heck I was a teenage and more likely to believe what I was told or read without really challenging it. The day after this my friends all decided to have an impromptu night out camping in the middle of nowhere, we literally all grabbed whatever camping gear we had, got some drinks and walked till we found some land that didn't seem to be clearly owned or checked by anyone and we set up camp. I didn't really find Blair Witch scary as a film but out there the next night in the middle of nowhere with trees around me well I guess this showed me it must have affected me to some degree as I was turning at the slightest sound of a twig snapping. I remember my friends taking the piss in a jovial manner ribbing me about being scared and then a week or so latter most of them came up to me and said something on the lines of ''Shit me, If I had watched the Blair Witch the day before camping in the middle of nowhere you'd never have got my ass out there.''
I still think Blair Witch is decent yet I have found all of the Paranormal Activity films as dull as dish water, maybe it is the fact I am older and more cynical or that the trick has already been done once and I am not going to be fooled again. Yet sometimes I will be happily fooled, I will watch Penn and Teller perform magic tricks and love every second of it knowing fully well that what they are doing are tricks, that they are fooling me. So why would I be happy to let one thing fool me and enjoy every second of it and yet shrug at another form of entertainment which wants me to embrace it and go along with its tricks? The truth is I don't know.
Yet I have enjoyed some found footage style movies, for example which is George Romero's attempt to combine his Zombie films with the idea of found footage. It follows all of Romero's standard Zombie rules, so If a zombie bites you or if you die in any way, that's it your going to become one of them, then there is the fact that you can only kill the undead by destroy their brains. The basic premise of the film is that a survivor has pieced together footage from the first night that the dead came back to life. Maybe I enjoyed this because it was a combination between a Romero Zombie film and a found footage flick. It also in typical Romero style seemed to be commenting on the world, all of Romero's films seem to have some point a sort of political agenda Dawn of the Dead is often talked about as being a comment on American Commercialism and in this way Diary of the Dead seems to talk about how we are all so used to viewing the world through technology now days instead of with our own eyes, and about how the media presents things. I think its a very clever film which has its faults but I also think that it is this Romero factor which makes me enjoy the film and hold it up as something other than just another found footage flick.
So I guess the answer to the question should we just stop with the whole Found Footage thing is that no but the idea of found footage on its own is not enough. Blair Witch worked for me because of all of the websites and rumour mills and all of the work around the film, that was as much of a gimmick as the style of the film itself at the time, the same can be said of Diary of the Dead it was the found footage in combination with the zombies and social commentary of George Romero. The Doctor Who episode had a lot going for it, some decent ideas a good looking monster, a creepy twist at the end and some great acting from Peter Capaldi but they didn't pull it off it just came across as a bit of a mess. I would defiantly give another found footage film a try but if it wants to get a rave review from me then it has to do something worthwhile because the found footage gimmick alone is not enough any-more, its no longer fresh and it is in fact very overused.