From ‘Blair Witch’ to ‘Project Almanac’: A history of the found footage genre

02.02.15 3 years ago

How do we define “found footage” nowadays, anyway?

In the 15 years since the release of “The Blair Witch Project,” the term has been applied to a huge number of films – despite the fact that many fail to adhere to the label's literal meaning. Nevertheless, the moniker won out over the once-popular “shaky-cam” label, and it now serves as a catch-all for any (mainly non-comedic) film in which the “faux-doc” conceit is front and center.

With the release of the time-travel “found footage” movie “Project Almanac” this weekend, we thought we'd take a look back over the history of this now-35-year-old genre, which got its start with Roggero Deodato's infamous Amazon horror film “Cannibal Holocaust” and came into more widespread use with the box-office success of “Blair Witch” and “Paranormal Activity” decades later.

And no griping necessary at the exclusion of “This Is Spinal Tap” and its assorted “mockumentary” brethren; while adhering to the faux-doc format, those films are numerous enough to merit a category all their own.

Check out the highlights from the genre in the gallery below.

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