Please stop making mockumentary movies told through found-footage video.
Really. Please. Stop.
While it started as a creative and novel tool to boost audience anxiety levels and heighten dramatic effects, stretching the confines of a limited budget, its overuse has forced a predictable repetitiveness that now is clearly used only to trim budgets, lessen the cinematography burden, and shorten script development (aka, needing a full script that tells a complete story; aka paying for good writers).
Too often now an audience is tasked with piecing together a fragmented story from time-chopped snippets of supposed found-footage, comprised of interminable, ho-hum-boring, inaction inserted between herky-jerky-murky scenes flitting by, fast and furious, leaving audiences alternating between picking popcorn from their teeth or struggling to comprehend what's happening.
It wasn’t like this in the beginning.
Cannibal Holocaust, The Last Broadcast and The Blair Witch Project were ground-breaking, scary, and enhanced by these techniques. By the time Cloverfield, [REC], and Paranormal Activity had arrived, the handheld camera as documentor absolute, had begun to stretch credulity by forcing us to assume a person, within the context of each movie’s situation, could constantly keep a handheld camera rolling in the most dire situations, disregarding personal safety, and even life and limb. Of course, in plots where a mockumentary is an integral stimulus for the story such as Troll Hunter, The Last Exorcist, and to a lesser extent, Diary of the Dead, it is easier to suspend disbelief because of their natural-use context .
But incessant hand-holding cameras have certainly jumped the shark with Apollo 18 and quite possibly Paranormal Activity 3. Can anyone honestly say these movies, and the other ones lined up in the queue, use the mockumentary and found-footage techniques because their stories demand such use and couldn’t be told in another way? Or has Hollywood and independent filmmakers resorted to using “found-footage” because it’s convenient for cutting corners in the production process and camouflaging their LESS as MORE from the audience? Certainly, in the case of the Paranormal Activity franchise, if forced to stay within the confines of its mockumentary format, we will be forced to view its continuing hauntings through kodachrome, kinetascope, and eventually daguerreotypes, respectively.
So where do we go from here?
I implore you to drop the gimmicky overuse of the mockumentary and found-footage formats from horror movies and return to telling stories in a more demanding but visually satisfying way (aka drop the cheapening shaky-cam and off action angles), with well-written scenes devoid of stupefying inaction to pad out the minutes, and with properly fleshed out characters whose revealing dialog holds our attention. And then sufficiently light it all so we can see what the hell’s happening to them.
Please. Really. Stop.
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