Final Film Paper
First Person Films
First person films became popular with the movie The Blair Witch Project. With the release of this movie in 1999 it was undoubtedly the most successful and influential first person films to come about and started a new trend in horror cinema. This film was able to catch a sort of realness to it in the sense that it was a group of young adults video taping their experience in a woods. Whether people found this film to be scary or stupid, I know that it was popular when I was growing up and made way for the many first person films we see today.
These types of films allow a different type of emotion and psychological aspect to them. In the traditional form of these films, it indicates a point of view from a character; basically seeing a scene through the person’s eyes. Most of these films have a documentary look to them, usually beginning as a complete “random” home video. This is why these movies have been a fab lately, this “random realness”, as though it could happen to any of us watching. Starting from the beginning of this trend of movie, The Blair Witch Project, we can look at the top 15 recent first person films and how they add a unique horror aspect to them.
In 2005, a Japanese film called Noroi: The Curse was released. This movie was about a couple of young Japanese people who are documenting their findings of this old curse. This film brought the aspect of horror and suspense in a way that filmmakers made it seem as though this tape was found. This movie brought a new level to horror films in America.
Usually films likes this one and The Blair Witch Project are low budget films, so when adding in an element, like the one in the background of the picture, it does not take much or any computer editing. That could very well be one of the cast members standing in very dim lighting to add this spooky element to it. When looking at later films, you can defiantly see more computer effects to them, combining 21st century film making into “hand held” cameras.
A year later a movie called Borat came out in the theater. This movie is completely different to the average first person film. This movie is not considered a horror, suspense, or scary film but a comedy, a controversial one that is. This first person film takes into account the travels of a man from Kazakhstan coming to America in search of finding Pamela Anderson. Throughout the film there are many strange sexual experiences, which make this film so controversial. Unlike the other first person horror films, this film was actually non-scripted so people starring in the film were caught on camera by surprise which is what makes this film unique and funny.
In 2007, two first person horror films came out on the big screens. The Poughkeepsie Tapes and Paranormal Activity. Paranormal Activity is the more famous of the two but The Poughkeepsie Tapes is one of the most chilling first person films I have seen. It is police report of their findings of 800 VCR tapes found in a man’s home, which shows many gruesome murders. This film was made to make it seem like you are watching the daily news and the reporter is telling you about these tapes they found. The slight unevenness adds to the realistic feel of the film. The true horror does not lie within the videotaped torture, which is why this movie is so unique and a huge change to the horror film world.
Paranormal Activity is first person/documentary style film which follows a couple daily as their house is being terrorized by an evil spirit. The man in the film sets up a camera to try and videotape the sightings of this spirit. What makes this film so popular and different is that the only thing you can see is what is being filmed on a tripod so in certain parts you will only see a part in the house but hear mysterious sounds in other rooms.
This is what makes Paranormal Activity so famous and keeps you on you off your seat for the entire film.
A year later a different style of first person film comes out; Cloverfield hits the big screen. This movie is different compared to the other first person films in the sense that is has more special effects and it is a sci-fi/action film.
Since the first person film came about it has set the path for many types of film on all genres. This movie is a good example of that. I find these movies to be very thrilling and exciting. It makes you feel like you are actually a part of the film, or give you the essence that if one day you decide to record some home footage you might catch something alarming or disturbing. It will be interesting to see how many more first person films will come out and how they can change the way we view typical horror or action films.