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13 found-footage horror movies actually worth watching this Halloween

Ever since 1999’s The Blair Witch Project sent early internet denizens scouring the web to figure out if its spooky, shocking story was actually true, we can’t seem to get enough of found-footage movies.

In the 19 years since Blair Witch’s theatrical run, 18 found-footage horror movies have made $15 million or more at the box office — which constitutes a financial success, considering how cheaply most of these movies are made. (See: The Gallows, which made almost $24 million on a reported production budget of $100,000.) That’s about one hit per year. As niche tastes go, found footage has a nice track record.

The subgenre has also seen its share of genuine blockbusters. Blair Witch and 2008’s Cloverfield became bonafide cultural phenomenons during their days. Two of the Paranormal Activity movies topped $100 million at the US box office and another grossed $80 million, huge hits for three consecutive Halloweens.

As streaming takes over, the market has continued to grow for the kind of low-budget, easy wins that found-footage films can provide, and the barrier to entry for filmmakers looking to try their hand at some quick-and-dirty handheld scares is lower than ever. Searching “found footage” on Amazon Video yielded 222 results.

So what is it about found footage? In an age when you can pull a phone out of your pocket and record movie-quality video, I think there’s something deeply authentic and compelling about a movie that mimics something we ourselves might shoot. It’s escapism in its rawest, most intimate form. Pair it with the primal emotions of horror, the genre that’s home to most of these films, and you have a reliable formula.

Personally, I love found footage, and think it doesn’t get enough credit for how flexible it is:

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