Note: I’m skipping obvious choices like Blair Witch and Cloverfield. If I’ve missed some, tell me in the comments!
V/H/S and V/H/S 2
I know, I KNOW. The feelings on these movies are more than a little divisive, that’s why this is a special case where I’m recommending the best parts of each movie. Both films are, in my opinion, really great. I adore anthology films and both movies use the idea of Found Footage in a variety of different ways. I’d recommend checking out both movies in full, but as there are some clunker parts (Clinical Trials is pretty shit) here are the best parts of each film
V/H/S: Amateur Night. It has probably the best way to explain away the “WHY ARE THEY STILL FILIMING THIS!?” complain of any found footage film by making the camera part of the guy’s glasses. I’m not going to spoil it, but it’s essentially about a group of douchebags who go to pick up girls at a bar and get more than they bargained for.
V/H/S 2: Safe Haven. It’s essentially one big long insane ride through a cult that’s melting down. Probably the best part of either film. It’s bloody, brutal and just incredibly scary all the way through
This is a really really weird movie. It’s basically two films crammed together. You have the start and middle of a really well done, creepy and atmospheric horror story set in the woods, and the ending to the single most insane horror film ever made. This movie’s ending makes no fucking sense whatsoever but it’s so much fun that you won’t care. A group of friends go to the woods to film a documentary and suddenly some force begins trying to keep them there. At a certain point it seems like the director of the movie stumbled onto the best haunted house ride ever and just filmed there. The actors nail the feeling of creeping dread and horror of the start and then nail the feeling of “WHAT THE FUCK IS EVEN HAPPENING?” of the ending
A found footage movie done in the style of a 48 Hours/Dateline episode. It’s a haunting, heartbreaking and morose look at a family dealing with tragedy. When the daughter drowns during vacation, the family has to deal with the grief as well as the fear that she may be trying to contact them from beyond the grave. The acting might be the best overall in any found footage movie. There are nearly no scares, but what that means is that when the scares do hit, they hit HARD as you are not expecting them. This is more a film about loss and putting together a mystery rather than shock and scares.
Noroi: The Curse
Holy fucking shit. This might be one of the scariest movies ever made. A long, disturbing, moody film dealing with a terrifying force destroying the lives of everyone it touches in Japan. This isn't a film with jump scares, this is a movie that drenches you in horror. Every scene feels like something horrible is going to happen, nothing feels safe and anything can happen.
A group of paranormal investigators film an episode of their show at an abandoned mental asylum SPOILER: things go badly. I’ll admit, this one has a VERY slow start. It does a very good job of making the cast look like tools for clearly making up stories about hauntings to get better ratings, but the pace can seem glacial at times. When the shit starts to go bad though the pace hits an almost breakneck speed. This is a VERY scary film, the effects are pretty great aside from a really shit looking CGI monster face, but overall it works with tension, disturbing visuals and mindfucks. The sequel is shit though so avoid that