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the found footage phenomenon

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[Fantastic Fest ’21] ‘The Found Footage Phenomenon’ review: Strictly for fans

What you expect if you’re a fan.

The Found Footage Phenomenon looks at one of horror’s most interesting subgenres. As the title implies, the documentary looks at found footage or point of view films. It explores its origins, why they are so popular, and what the future holds. The documentary is almost entirely composed of interviews. Interviewees include Rob Savage and Eduardo Sanchez. While it is interesting to hear from the filmmakers, much is repeated instead of reinforced. This can make The Found Footage Phenomenon tedious – especially since it runs almost two hours. 

Surprisingly, very little actual footage from movies are shown. The Found Footage phenomenon carefully chooses its shots. When something is shown, it is very brief. More often than not one of the interview subjects is speaking over the scene. The Found Footage Phenomenon does not need to be mostly made out of clips, but there is an irony in having so little. As many point out, immersion is an important part of these movies. The doc seems to intentionally keep viewers from getting too close preferring to lecture.

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This does not mean it is uninteresting, however. There are ruminations on the appeal of found footage. Even more eye-opening is the discussion on how the genre has found its way into otherwise “regular” films. The influence of these movies tends to get overlooked and The Found Footage Phenomenon is a reminder of the overall importance to cinema. The talk of Hollywood versus indie films is a fun bit that could have been expanded on.

[Fantastic Fest '21] 'The Found Footage Phenomenon' review: Strictly for fans

Even more fascinating to some will be the discussion of technology’s effects. As the film rightly points out, many look upon the genre as cheap movies. As is also correctly stated, this is because POV movies strive to look that way. Due to this, few will put together the notion that advancements in tech have made the stories more innovative. The point is also made that as long as cameras keep improving, found footage will change, too.

The Found Footage Phenomenon will be a fun watch for fans of the genre. The footage that is shown will provide fun reminders of old favorites and tips on what to watch. Meanwhile, the interviews are interesting, if a little repetitive. Ultimately, it will only serve to remind people why they already like the genre and fail to bring in those who have no interest in these types of films.

The Found Footage Phenomenon is available on FF@Home through October 3. Check out AIPT’s ongoing coverage.

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