24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Found Footage

Sundance 2012: Real-life scares at screening of 'V/H/S'

January 25, 2012 |  1:41 pm


A late-night screening of the found-footage horror film "V/H/S" at Sundance yielded disturbing news: Shortly into the screening, one person had left the theater and fainted in the lobby while another had exited with nausea.

Producer Roxanne Benjamin, posting on Twitter, said that EMTs were called to the scene, that the event was not staged and "it was scary and not fun, and everyone is grateful the guy and his girlfriend are OK. And they wanted to go back in the theatre!" Benjamin would later post that the cause of the couple's problems were "altitude sickness, exhaustion, dehydration and alcohol” and not directly related to the film.

Either way, the movie is not for the faint of heart. Benjamin and fellow producer Brad Miska brought together six directors -- Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glen McQuaid, Joe Swanberg and a collective known as Radio Silence -- to create six short horror films based on the notion of “found footage.”

The frame story follows a trio of hoodlums who come across a cache of videotapes after they break into a house; each of the shorts portrays what the burglars supposedly see on the tapes. The shorts each have a unique style and offer the requisite twists and gore.

Wingard shot the hoodlum story, while Bruckner tells the tale of three young men who get more than they bargain for when they film a night of carousing. West created a home movie of a couple whose road trip goes off course. Though all the filmmakers worked independently of one another, there are recurring themes and images involving such subjects as voyeurism.

During the Q&A after the screening, with all the directors present, Bruckner summed up many of the shorts in the anthology when he said his inspiration was to make a viewer "feel guilty, maybe, about the things that you thought about doing with a camera, maybe things you've done with a camera, things you plan on doing with a camera and punish you severely for it.”


Photos: The scene at Sundance 2012

Joe Swanberg to release new film online for free

SXSW 2011: Horror mixes with wit in Ti West's "The Innkeepers"

-- Mark Olsen in Park City, Utah

Photo: Kate Lyn Sheil in "V/H/S" by Ti West . Credit: Sundance Film Festival


‘Chronicle’ director: Our film isn’t about good vs. evil

January 12, 2012 |  8:33 pm

With “The Devil Inside” now the first hit of 2012, can a similar low-budget genre movie follow in its footsteps?

That’s the hope harbored by the filmmakers behind “Chronicle,” a movie that similarly uses the found-footage device to depict surreal events.

The Fox release, which comes out on Feb. 2, tells of a group teenagers who discover they’ve acquired superpowers. At first they just use it for practical jokes, but soon one of them decides to trot them out for more dangerous purposes, and the story takes a darker turn.

Most similar to “Devil” -- and, perhaps, most familiar to a generation raised on YouTube -- is that the movie’s events are being shot by an unseen amateur filmmaker. (You can check out the trailer here.)  The overall impression, as it often is with the conceit, is that we’ve come across a tape documenting events whose participants are no longer around to describe it themselves.

“The plan was to make a film that played like a personal documentary,” director Josh Trank, who also directed some scenes for the DVD of “Paranormal Activity 2,” told 24 Frames. “We’re not saying it’s real; in fact we’re very up front that it‘s fake. But we do think it's a fresh way to comment on the world.”

It remains to be seen whether the found-footage conceit continues to resonate. But for now, observers say it’s a novel way to add a level of urgency, particularly for a culture saturated in reality television.

Trank, who directed the film from a script by the up-and-coming Max Landis (son of John), said he sought to strike a balance between serious themes and the creepy thrills of seeing, say, a teenager use superpowers to make a teddy bear levitate in front of a young girl.

“I’d like to think that it’s more in the ‘District 9’ world of genre movies, a commercial context for relatable ideas,” Trank said. “Superpowers in our movie are a way to express a teenage drama. It’s a movie about inner conflict and personal problems, not good versus evil."

-- Steven Zeitchik



'Chronicle:' Like 'Paranormal Activity,' but with superpowers?

'Devil Inside' is latest film to use found footage

Does "Devil Inside" suggest a new filmmaker-studio relationship?

Photo: "Chronicle." Credit: 20th Century Fox


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