Most fans have gotten over their desire to drop a steaming pile on any film shot in a home video, or handy-cam format. It’s evident at this stage that a new style of film was popularized by Eduardo Sanchez in 1999, and enough young filmmakers jumped at the idea of getting rich and famous with little equipment, or experience that the style of film practically demanded a name, because it inspired a flood of uninspired efforts from amateur filmmakers who really didn’t have the greatest grasp on filmmaking in general. There’s little doubt that the sheer volume of FF flicks cropping up in the wake of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT left fans feeling the burden of officially labeling this style of filming. Found footage is how we tend to reference the subgenre, and after spending a decade or so struggling to get it right, working out the bugs, filmmakers are finally beginning to deliver highly refined found footage films.
But does that mean we’ll see some of our favorites step behind the camera to shoot found footage movies? Maybe. Maybe not. But if we’re hear dreaming about possibilities, then I’ve got to dream about a half-dozen filmmakers that would absolutely slay a found footage picture.
It’s obvious that Steven Spielberg is likely a bit too “big” to be bothered with the idea of shooting a found footage flick. But let’s be real here: Spielberg is arguably the greatest living filmmaker and he has an absolute ton of experience. Even a little bit in the horror genre (DUEL, SOMETHING EVIL, JAWS and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND can all be considered as at least having a connection to the genre, if not being an outright genre effort; that’s not even to mention works like JURASSIC PARK and THE TWILIGHT ZONE), and that obviously can’t hurt things. Spielberg is obviously amazing, and it seems that he has a passion for macabre film, those factors alone are more than enough to leave me convinced that Spielberg could create a top-flight found footage movie.
Mike Flanagan is the closest you’ll get to a modern day John Carpenter. The reason is patience and audience respect. While so many genre filmmakers love to get in, get it shot, and get the hell out, it seems they’ve forgotten that the viewers aren’t just paying attention, some of them are also intelligent. The days of lazy filmmaking are dying. Consumers are demanding more. We want gorgeous films that stimulate our senses. We want stories that unravel like stories, not like cliff’s notes of a good story. Flanagan still nurtures the important moments, and because Carpenter popularized that practice within the genre, Flanagan’s modern works already have an interesting measure of nostalgic value. Even in a field of excellent young filmmakers, Flanagan stands out, and he’s learned to make situations – not just individuals or monstrosities – terrifying. There’s little doubt this man could slay this film format, the question is, is he interested in doing so?
Roar Uthaug is the sleeper pick of this list, but he’s got all the tools required to make one hell of a found footage feature. He understands how to make a stellar slasher pic, as evidenced by COLD PREY, he proved he can handle enormous action sequences in Escape, and he proved he’s got the skills to guide man to safety in the face of Mother Nature with the criminally underrated THE WAVE. He’s proven versatile, and better yet, he’s proven he knows how to bring characters to life. Every movie the man makes features a number of characters that force you to cross your fingers, hoping they survive. It’s a special weapon that this inspired young filmmaker could use to ensure he produced a found footage film that we can actually invest in.
Over the years I’ve come to accept the fact that the brilliant David Cronenberg was put on this earth to completely fuck with our minds. He never seems to think in a straight line, and every story beat requires embarking on a rugged trek through hellacious terrain. And it’s all to make you think. Scratch that, to make you overthink. That’s what Cronenberg does, he gets our brains racing in a circle before yanking the lever that brings the cogs to an immediate halt, and there we are staring at something basic in intention but astoundingly complex in execution. Now that it’s on the old melon, maybe it’s better Cronenberg steer clear of the found footage subgenre; moviegoers may experience very literal brain melting.
Sam Raimi’s frenetic filming style could lend itself seamlessly to a found footage flick. In fact, he may have the advantage over the other talents included on this list simply because of his tried and true camera maneuvers. He always ensures his cinematography matches the mood of his story, whether tame or intense, which is another major plus to consider. While the idea of an EVIL DEAD found footage flick feels entirely wrong, there’s nothing that suggests Raimi is incapable of creating something entirely original, wrapped up in a crazed handy-cam package.
Each director on this list has a unique trait, tendency or trick to each other. Spielberg can turn a colossal image into a believably tangible capture. Mike Flanagan has taken up the John Carpenter torch and mastered the patient approach to filmmaking that allows drawn out sequences to breathe and strengthen a film. David Cronenberg can figuratively reach into his mind and pull out a completely perplexing yet thrilling idea you didn’t realize could be birthed. Roar Uthaug has a natural knack for endearing characters battling unbeatable conflicts. But Ridley Scott, may be the deepest thinker and greatest perfectionist on this list. The man can turn a shaky script riddled with holes and turn it into a mesmerizing film that feels enormous in scope. That ability to disguise weaknesses and wow viewers with stunning shots and memorable personalities tells me that while Scott may be “above” the idea of making a found footage film, he could probably create something legitimately marvelous.