Wild Night

Project X is the craziest party you’ll ever see. There’ve been plenty of wild high school parties in movies, but nothing comes close to this. The party is so out of control that Project X had to come with a warning. There’s no real point to the movie other than showing the most reckless behavior imaginable. Even though a lot of teenagers make bad decisions, it’s not always gonna be enjoyable to watch. I get why critics hated Project X, but I mostly saw it as brainless entertainment.

Tom is a promising student with a small circle of friends. Kirby is his only female friend who truly likes him. His nerdy friend J.B. is as likable as she is, but Costa is a movie best friend that no one in their right mind would actually hang out with. He’s the biggest foul mouthed misogynistic jerk in the movie (and that’s saying something). I think my favorite character is the mysterious loner behind the camera. Project X uses a found footage approach to make it seem more authentic. Most actors are unknown aside from a random appearance from Miles Teller.

Everything centers around the party in Pasadena. Tom’s parents leave for the week, a massive amount of invitations are sent out, neighbors are warned, drugs & alcohol are acquired, and security is hired. The party seems harmless at first, but then the music kicks in, girls get topless, the dog gets passed around, the house gets trashed, and a little person starts punching below the belt. It only gets worse when the cops are called and a maniac shows up with a flamethrower. Though it led to several imitators, Project X is not something to aspire to.

Project X

Tom’s party gets out of control

The Woods

Blair Witch is the secret sequel to The Blair Witch Project. So secret in fact that it went by the title The Woods long before its true name was revealed. Obviously they couldn’t get away with calling it factual at this point. After the misguided attempt at making a sequel during the hype of the original, Blair Witch came out 17 years later. Thankfully ignoring whatever Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 was trying to do.

This time they actually make it found footage. Which has severely lost its novelty considering every other horror movie uses that technique now. At least the camera work is a lot smoother. Blair Witch is just like The Blair Witch Project. Only louder, with more people, and a few unexpected turns. It also follows a group of young people shooting a documentary. One of the crew members is investigating the disappearance of his sister Heather Donahue. Since he believes she’s still alive after all these years.

Along with the usual stick figures, other strange things start to happen. The climax again takes place inside an abandoned house. There’s just a lot more of it that’s seen. Including the Witch herself (seen for a few split seconds). I can’t help but wonder if it was intentionally made to look like an old Blair Witch action figure from 2001. Blair Witch is essentially just a rehash of more memorable events, but at least they tried to make it scary.

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Lisa runs from the Blair Witch

Preceded by: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

I’m So Scared

The Blair Witch Project revolutionized the found footage genre. It wasn’t the very first, but it did popularize the technique. With a nearly non-existent budget of $60,000, a couple of hand held cameras, entirely improvised dialogue, and three amateur actors, The Blair Witch Project managed to gross over $248.6 million. What really sold the movie was that they passed it off as real footage. Going so far as to create fake police reports, phoney interviews, and missing persons posters of the three hikers. All of which could be found on the movie’s website during the late 90’s. How nobody came up with this idea before is beyond me.

The Blair Witch Project is a documentary by Heather Donahue about the fabled Blair Witch of Burkittsville, Maryland. She enlists the help of Mike and Josh. Together they interview locals and travel deep into the woods. That’s when things take a turn for the worst. What makes the film so unique is that it barely shows the audience anything outside of their own imagination. Mostly just rocks, tied up sticks, and someone facing a corner. Some people aren’t a fan of this type of horror, but I find it very terrifying.

The most famous scene involves a terrified Heather leaving an emotional message for her family. How she won Worst Actress I’ll never know. Sure the shaky camera is nauseating, but it helps to sell the illusion of authenticity. The Blair Witch is never shown and that’s just as scary as anything we could have seen on screen. The Blair Witch Project goes to show that you don’t always need much to be successful.

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“I’m scared to close my eyes, I’m scared to open them”

Followed by: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

Sundowning

The Visit took everyone completely by surprise. Can it be? An M. Night Shyamalan movie that doesn’t suck. As it turns out, all he had to do was return to what made him so good in the first place. Atmospheric slow building stories that aren’t pretentious. While simultaneously teaming up with the horror heavy weights at Blumhouse. Enough of the overly ambitious CGI filled movies with big name stars. The Visit is a found footage horror movie. It may have come out when the whole found footage trend was done to death, but it doesn’t feel forced here. The Visit is about a brother and sister who visit their grandparents for the first time in a remote town. Since their mother hasn’t spoken to her parents in years. The sister documents everything on a camcorder and her brother is a germaphobe who raps. Their visit seems normal at first. Until “Nana” and “Pop Pop” start to behave very strangely. My grandparents passed away when I was very young. So I can’t relate too much, but I’m sure it isn’t supposed to be this terrifying. The only problem is that not everybody has seen The Visit. So I won’t give the twist away. I’ll just say that it’s genuinely shocking and disturbing. The Visit marks a more than welcome return-to-form for M. Night Shyamalan.

Nana asks Becca to clean the oven

Flying and Filming

Chronicle is a hidden gem in a subgenre dominated by horror. In that it’s a found footage superhero movie. As superhero movies go, this is about as unique a premise as you can get. Chronicle is a found footage story about three teens who gain superpowers. Specifically flight, telekinesis, and endurance. Chronicle chronicles the tragic tale of troubled youth Andrew Detmer. He films himself as a personal outlet, but interestingly enough the movie isn’t entirely from his camera’s perspective. One other character is shown filming and sometimes surveillance cameras are shown. Andrew’s cousin and a popular student are the other two who gain powers. The conflict comes when Andrew starts to become angrier and a bit more hostile. Chronicle was another movie that I saw by myself in theaters. I wasn’t really expecting much, but I wasn’t disappointed. It’s one of the best non-traditional superhero movies of the decade. The characters are painfully real and relatable. It feels like it could have actually happened (minus the powers of course). Plus telekinesis is my favorite superpower. So this was definitely made for me. So if you’re tired of all the found footage horror movies, Chronicle is the movie to watch.

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Andrew crushes a car with the power of his mind