Found Footage is one of the most popular subgenres of the horror genre, and for good reason.
It helps put the watcher directly into the film and makes everything more terrifying because you can easily imagine yourself as the main character going through these various horrors.
One of the most common styles of the found footage genre is to make mockumentary films, which mimic films made by a real documentary crew and are commonly used to make movies about serial killers.
Some of the most famous films of this style are Cannibal Holocaust, Paranormal Activity, the Blair Witch Project, and Lake Mungo. Check out the article on movies like The Poughkeepsie Tapes for more great examples of this subgenre.
However, found footage has a ton of different styles and is a favorite amongst indie filmmakers as it can accomplish a ton without requiring a large budget.
So now, without further ado, let’s jump into the best found footage films you can watch, and be prepared to be scared.
1. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
First up is the film that arguably is where found footage started: Cannibal Holocaust.
If you have watched Green Inferno in the past, the premise was highly borrowed from Cannibal Holocaust, but Cannibal Holocaust cranked the horror, controversy, and terror to 1,000.
It is filmed as a mockumentary of a documentary crew who goes to the Amazon Rainforest to capture footage of a cannibal tribe who had lived for thousands of years undisturbed by the outside world.
As you can guess, it did not go well for them, and some of the most brutal scenes ever put on screen were in this film.
They were so brutally real that the director, Ruggero Deodato, was brought up on murder charges until he could prove that the actors were still alive.
That’s how impressive the effects of this film are, and it is the main reason it is one of the greatest cult found footage horror movies of all time.
However, this film came with several other controversies besides the murder charges.
In the movie, there is a r*pe scene of a young Columbian girl who couldn’t speak English and wasn’t told what was happening during the filming. It is one of the vilest scenes in the film and one of the most difficult to sit through.
But if you somehow manage to get through that, there is plenty of animal cruelty and murder of real animals on screen to sit through. While this may be one of the greatest found footage films ever, it is important to remember just how disturbing of a movie it is.
2. Cloverfield (2008)
Cloverfield is another incredibly impressive found-footage film, and during its marketing period, the team went all out to get people interested in the movie.
Nowadays, we have things like people dressing like Megan from M3GAN, but for Cloverfield, they essentially created an entire ARG (Augmented Reality Game).
They made multiple fake websites, automated fake phone numbers, random merch that could be found, and secret codes that would give you information about what to expect from this upcoming film.
When it was finally released, it was easy to see why there was so much hype surrounding it, and luckily, the film delivered.
The film is set in New York City during the end days of the city, and it is structured like a government agency trying to piece together what happened from various sources after a massive monster attack in the city.
Much of the footage comes from the cameras of a group of friends staying in one of the group member’s apartment buildings when the attack started.
It is an intense film that combines realism with supernatural activity, and it is not afraid to not pull any punches.
If you want a film with a happy ending, don’t watch Cloverfield because there is no happiness in this movie, only a desperate attempt to survive against insurmountable odds.
3. The Conspiracy (2012)
While The Conspiracy is not a well-known found footage film, it is still an impressive film with all the qualities one looks for in a good found footage movie.
Plus, it doesn’t use the screaming all the time trope films like The Blaire Witch Project use and instead relies on things that can hit home for many people. That is the power of obsession and the desire to know the truth behind the curtain.
The film follows two young filmmakers who decide to interview a conspiracy theorist for their next movie, and at first, they think he’s crazy like every other conspiracy theorist out there.
However, after he disappears, one of the filmmakers, Aaron, begins to think that maybe the man is telling the truth.
He collects all the newspaper clippings and starts piecing together what the conspiracy theorist believed, and what he uncovers is a dark side to everything he once believed to be the truth.
This leads him to travel down a dark path and endanger himself and his friend as they discover a secret society.
If you want to watch a found footage film that feels like it could easily fit into the modern era, then you need to check out The Conspiracy.
4. Creep (2014)
If you are looking for a found-footage film that will make you feel incredibly uncomfortable and squirm, look no further than the 2014 film Creep.
This movie follows a videographer struggling to make ends meet and decides to take an assignment with him going out to the middle of nowhere.
As you can probably guess, that was a big mistake, as the person he meets is incredibly creepy, hence the film’s name, Creep.
From the very get-go, the director lets you know the man who put out the assignment, Josef, will make this film as uncomfortable as possible.
Not only does he secretly videotape the main character, but he also has this terrifying wolf mask that he wears and uses to scare the main character.
Speaking of wild animals and horror, check out this guide to the best bear horror movies.
It’s this nasty-looking mask from his childhood, and when he puts it on, it’s almost like he becomes a different person, which could be from the inoperable brain tumor he supposedly has.
This movie sits so wrong with so many people and feels so incredibly uncomfortable because it sounds like something you would hear on the news.
A strange man with dark secrets lures a man into his home and terrorizes him with a creepy wolf mask. And that sense of realism makes this low-budget film one of the best found-footage horror films on the market today.
5. The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014)
The Taking of Deborah Logan is an underrated film in the found footage genre, but it is a great movie that everyone who loves found footage horror has to watch.
The movie’s plot follows a documentary crew made up of film students who are creating their first movie about Deborah Logan, an elderly woman living with Alzheimer’s disease.
However, things take a turn when Deborah begins to act strangely, and it is up to the group of student filmmakers to try to identify what is truly going on, leading them down some terrifying paths that will make many horror fans question their decision to watch this movie.
Supernatural forces have a strong play in this film, but it never feels out of place for the movie. It weaves them with the main narrative to create an incredibly real story.
From the storytelling to the characters, you will find yourself engrossed in their stories and praying they will make it out alive.
Be forewarned, though. Nothing is quite as it seems in this movie, and what you think is the truth may not actually be the truth.
6. Hell House LLC (2016)
Hell House LLC is an iconic found-footage film with several other films in the franchise, though the series became much weaker after the first film and did not manage to do as well.
Regardless of that, though, if you are a fan of the found footage horror subgenre, this is a must-watch.
It follows a group of freelance horror house creators who travel around throughout the year and put together the most terrifying horror houses in the world.
Hell House LLC follows its process when working with a new house, and the group is very creative when working on a shoestring budget.
At first, we get to see the characters putting together the haunted house, but the film is inter-spliced with documentary footage speaking about the events that we watch go down on the screen throughout the movie.
However, they make sure not to reveal anything, leaving you in the dark until the big reveal at the movie’s end.
If you are terrified by creepy killer clowns, stay away from this movie, as they play quite a fairly large role in this movie.
However, if you are not, then this is one of the best found footage movies that you can watch thanks to its well-done found footage filmmaking style that makes it look like something straight off a VHS tape that you would find mixed in with home videos from your childhood.
7. The Sacrament (2013)
The Sacrament is easily one of the best found footage films out there, with a story modified after Jonestown and the horrific massacre when the leader, Jim Jones, decided it was time for all the members to exit this world.
This found footage film captures that feeling perfectly, and it could pass as another incredibly sad but real cult.
In this movie, the main characters are once again a small camera crew that has come to learn the truth about this strange commune that the main character’s sister joined some time before the movie’s events.
At first, the small group seems to all be living together happily, but that idealistic view is shattered when a young mute girl hands the main female character a note that says, “Help.”
This leads to the revelation of the dark secrets lurking within this group, and when morning rolls around, all hell breaks loose in the camp.
If you are uncomfortable with forced suicide, child deaths, and other such heavy topics, you should avoid this movie and instead enjoy one of the other films on this list.
It is an incredibly sad story, covering very real topics in our world and bringing them into our consciousness more easily digestibly for our brains.
While topics in the real world can feel kind of distant, horror is a great medium for putting you into the events being told, especially when the entire film is filmed in the found footage style.
8. TrollHunter (2010)
If traditional found footage movies aren’t cutting it for you, look no further than the 2010 Norwegian hit film TrollHunter.
This is by far one of the weirdest movies you will find on this list, but it is also an incredible film, with talented actors, a great story, and some of the most impressive special effects I’ve seen combined with the found footage technique.
The film starts with a small group of student filmmakers like nearly every other found footage movie, who are on the hunt for an alleged bear poacher.
While Hans keeps blowing them off, the filmmakers refuse to let him be and follow him into the woods one night, where we are introduced to the possibility of a troll being present.
We get an interesting bit of lore for these trolls: they can smell the “Jesus” in someone’s blood if they are Christians.
It is a strange tidbit of lore, but it plays a role later in the movie, so at the very least, it’s not just some random bit of information the directors dropped in and then never used again.
Speaking of fantasy creatures and horror, did you know mermaid horror is actually a thing?
As you can imagine from the title, most of the film is spent hunting trolls, and it’s really fun to watch a found footage movie, which is typically about serial killers, cults, or other weird occurrences, instead of going for the fully supernatural route.
And they actually do it well with trolls that look real and look great on camera.
9. Be My Cat: A Film for Anne (2015)
Leaving behind the world of interesting supernatural films, we once again venture into the realm of creepy and extremely disturbing found footage movies.
Be My Cat: A Film for Anne is about a Romanian filmmaker, Adrian, who is obsessed with the American actor Anne Hathaway. If you don’t know her, she played in films like Alice Through the Looking Glass, Ella Enchanted, Interstellar, and The Dark Knight.
He works with some local actresses to create these “demo scenes” for a movie he wants to create for Anne Hathaway to play in the lead role, and it quickly becomes clear that he is nothing more than a deranged stalker willing to go to any length to fulfill the sick and twisted fantasies in his mind.
The movie turns increasingly dark and grim as we watch the lines between fiction and reality blur in Adrian’s mind as he works on creating these demo scenes and proving himself to Anne Hathaway so that way she will love him the same way that he loves her.
However, it’s not love but the dark obsession of a man going through a lot of mental anguish.
The film ends ambiguously, leaving it unclear what exactly happens towards the ending, allowing you to create your version of what you think happens after the camera turns off.
It is a difficult film to watch, but it is far from being the most disturbing found footage film.
So, if you are looking for a happy-go-lucky found footage film, look elsewhere because Be My Cat: A Film for Anne will leave your skin crawling.
Content Warning: If you suffer from bad anxiety or paranoia revolving around webcams, do not watch this film, as it could make it worse for you, especially if you are not in a healthy mental state currently.
Another film that brings the horror of the real world into the horror we watch is the 2015 found footage film Ratter. A digital twist on the more typical stalker film, the entire movie is told through the eyes of a hacker watching a girl named Emma through her various devices.
Right from the get-go, that is a terrifying concept that is all too real in our digital age. The idea that someone could be watching you through your webcam is a deeply rooted fear, and this movie takes that fear and gives it one of the most gruesome ends possible.
As the movie progresses, the hacker begins to interact more and more with Emma and her devices and even goes as far as to kill her beloved cat.
This entire movie is deeply unsettling, and because of how real it seems, it does an excellent job of truly scaring you, unlike some other found footage films that can be more easily rationalized away.
So, if you are looking for a horror film that may just make you join the crowd of people covering their webcams with tape, give Ratter a watch.
11. Savageland (2015)
When it comes to pure brutality in a found footage movie, you’ll be hard-pressed to find worse than Savageland.
It starts with an entire town being wiped out, the blood of their corpses everywhere, and no explanation for what caused their deaths.
The film is filmed as a mockumentary, where the main characters try to discover what happened to the town.
The police first have a suspect, the only survivor of the slaughter, but as time goes on and interviews are done, the more dubious it becomes that the last survivor did it.
Even though he didn’t do it, the police want an easy victim and sentence him to death by lethal injection.
If you were hoping for some horrific serial killer or terrifying eldritch creatures, then you will be sorely disappointed as the killers in this found footage movie are just zombies.
It’s not the most unique concept, but it’s still a good movie that puts a lot more blood on the screen than most other found footage films.
If you’re a fan of good old zombie movies, check out the 25 best zombie movies of all time.
12. Host (2020)
COVID has made a lasting impact on the world, not only in the death toll but also culturally, and that has come out in the form of a lot more digital horror.
Host takes place during the early 2020 pandemic when everyone was in quarantine, and the only way to connect with each other was through Zoom.
The main character, Haley, decides to hire a medium for the current week’s meeting, and they hold a seance to connect with the dead, which goes about as well as you would imagine.
The dead begin to come back into the world, and a spirit that has arrived is not very friendly.
The various friends begin to fall victim to the spirit, and it seems there is no hope.
In the end, Haley is one of the only ones left standing against this evil spirit who seems to want to take one of the friend’s bodies for its own, as it has been a long time since it was able to walk upon the Earth.
So, if you are looking for a found footage movie that uses the loneliness and fear many of us felt during the quarantine, then you will love Host.
Speaking of quarantine, read why exactly zombie movies are so popular!