It's the age of found footage films
Life before The Blair Witch Project was truly a simpler time. One where mockumentaries used to be a comedy format, and one where horror movies were unabashedly make-believe.
Now, found-footage is its own genre, with horror movies masquerading as factual documents, all shaky and handheld and cutting out the budget for background music. With Ragini MMS being the most resent one, India stakes claim to the genre. Here's a look at that and other found-footage films:
Ekta Kapoor's latest production looks to be a sexualised reworking of Paranormal Activity. Lovers out for a steamy weekend look to be in the mood to film themselves before something goes horribly wrong. 'They don't know it... but it's a threesome,' says the poster, suggesting a spirit attack: possibly mid-intercourse?
Image: The trailer of Ragini MMS
Love Sex Aur Dhokha
Not a horror film by a long shot -- but decidedly scary in parts -- Dibakar Banerjee's masterpiece from last year was all about found-footage.
From a young wannabe filmmaker working on a project to impress Aditya Chopra to a store clerk trying to coerce a woman into sex while a hidden camera watches, this tried it all.
Image: The Love Sex Aur Dhoka footage
Agreed, this isn't a found-footage film at all. In fact it's the exact reverse, a highly stylised film with great visual flair.
Yet Kalki Koechlin's Chanda was the innocent victim of an MMS gone wrong, a character who enters the film dipped in sunshine but emerges a macabre queen of nightmares.
Image: The Dev D footage
Oren Peli's trendsetting film is about a young couple who, after feeling the presence of a supernatural entity in their house, set up a camera to try and capture what is haunting them. The film, a very effective chiller, was made for a budget of $15 million and went on to earn nearly $200 million.
Image: The Paranormal Activity footage
Set in New York after a future disaster, this Matt Reeves movie claims to be footage from a camera found at the wreckage of the aftermath.
Starting with casual footage of a party and going onto full-blown footage of a monster attacking New York City, this occasionally migraine-inducing film was very hyped because it was produced by Lost creator JJ Abrams.
Image: The Cloverfield footage
The Poughkeepsie Tapes
Interestingly structured, John Erick Dowdle's Poughkeepsie Tapes is an investigative tale, looking at policemen sifting through hundreds of sadistic, brutally torturous tapes detailing a serial killer's multiple murders.
It is a graphic and disturbing watch, and ends without any redemption.
Image: The Poughkeepsie Tapes footage
Highly acclaimed Spanish horror film REC, directed by Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza, keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Filmed from the perspective of a television reporter and her cameraman, the film shows a strange zombie-like outbreak infecting a building that has, for safety reasons, been cut off from the rest of the world.
Image: The REC footage
The Last Exorcism
In this Daniel Stamm mockumentary, a minister used to performing exorcisms sees an autistic child killed during an exorcism and decides to expose the process as a hoax.
He works with a film crew to show exorcisms are a fraud, but what happens is clearly beyond scientific belief.
Image: The Last Exorcism footage
The Zombie Diaries
Highly entertaining British indie The Zombie Diaries, by Kevin Gates and Michael Bartlett, shows documentary like footage of a zombie attack.
Broken up into three chapters -- The Outbreak, The Scavengers and The Survivors -- this is a largely improvised and smartly put-together film.
Image: The Zombie Diaries footage
The Blair Witch Project
And finally, the film that started it all. Claiming to be the true story of three young filmmakers who hiked into the woods to film a documentary about a local legend and then vanished, this film by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez scared audiences worldwide and, effectively, turned found-footage into a genre.
Image: The Blair Witch Project footage