On This Episode: Because the last episode was such a runaway hit with fans and haters of Chronicle, Kevin decided to reunite with Steve “Gabe” Reeves in the Magical Studio in the Sky to sound off about the overuse of the found footage genre. They know it basically prints money for the studios, but Kevin and Steve are tired of the entire found footage nonsense. So, they list the five main reasons why the entire genre should be lost again.
5. It’s a Gimmick
We’re all for a good gimmick, and when done properly, a gimmick can be a lot of fun. However, to quote Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park, sometimes people are “so preoccupied with whether they could that that didn’t stop to think if they should.” Yeah, we’re not talking about bringing back man-eating dinosaurs, but the found footage gimmick that was once a novelty is threatening to cannibalize the movies in general. It was a neat thing to watch a found footage movie once or twice a year. But when three found footage movies get released in the first two months of 2012 (and several more already on the way), there’s a serious problem.
4. It’s Not Original
While some found footage movies were groundbreaking, like The Blair Witch Project and even more recently Paranormal Activity, they’re a limited way to tell a story. Most of them start the same way (with a camera turning on and then a person asking whether the camera is, indeed, on), and about as many end the same way (with the tape running out or someone getting killed), the genre has gotten tired very quickly. And considering that this type of story was pioneered more than 30 years ago with the grisly film Cannibal Holocaust, filmmakers are treading familiar ground even when they aren’t sticking to the horror genre.
3. It’s Not “Real”
Much like reality television, there is very little about found footage films that plays as realistic. They’re meant to capture the voyeuristic nature of the YouTube generation, and they have. However, in order to justify a constant presence of a camera, the audience is reminded of why they have to tape everything (which kills any spontaneity of the characters). As evidenced in films like Project X, in this non-reality of found footage, people do and say anything in front of the camera with no regard to modesty, decorum of reality. If you want a scathing look at the silliness of the constant taping of found footage films, check out South Park‘s episode “Pandemic” in its twelfth season. It’s sadly prophetic.
2. The Acting Is Mostly Awful
In order to capture this faux reality, most found footage films use either amateur actors or, at the very least, inexperienced ones. Sure, this keeps the audience from recognizing a celebrity in some bizarre home movie, but it also ensures some awful performances. Add to this the fact that much of the dialogue is improvised, rarely playing off as natural and sounding more forced than scripted dialogue. Even the seminal modern found footage movie The Blair Witch Project was overacted to a ludicrous degree.
1. It’s Nauseating to Watch
Like the actors, the cinematography in most found footage movies is woefully amateurish. Again, it’s meant to emulate the current YouTube culture, but in essence, you have professional filmmakers trying to make a movie look terrible. Herky-jerky shakeycams have been responsible for people puking in these movies, and not just because a good chunk of the lot are weak films. This goes beyond a docudrama style that a great director like Steven Soderbergh achieves. This is a deliberate attempt to make the movie look like it was shot by Chihuahua with Parkinson’s.
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