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

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.