Is anyone else getting a little sick of the found footage phenomenon? I know I am.
I don't mean sick-to-your-stomach sick, though a lot of people do get nauseous watching movies shot with a shaky, handheld camera. I'm talking about reacting to the news of "Devil's Due," a new found-footage horror film coming out Jan. 17, with a collective groan and a roll of the eyes. Aren't we all just getting over "Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones"?
Okay, so maybe we didn't all rush out and see that last one. Despite pulling in $18.2 million last weekend, the new spinoff to the popular found-footage horror franchise was still beaten out for first place by the animated feature "Frozen." Reviews of "The Marked Ones" have been generally unkind, and the film's first-weekend box office showing is the worst opening of any film in the series.
Still, Hollywood's love affair with the genre — widely believed to have started with the 1980 spaghetti horror flick "Cannibal Holocaust," and peaking, according to some, with 1999's "The Blair Witch Project" — shows no signs of abating, despite being carried to such extremes these days that the laziest examples of found footage now feel like being forced to watch someone else's FaceTime chat for 90 minutes.
As annoying as the gimmick has become, found footage is never the only reason a movie fails. The same time period defined by flops such as "The Fourth Kind" (2009), "The Virginity Hit" (2010) and "Project X" (2012) also produced surprisingly fresh takes on the genre such as "Trollhunter" (2010), "Chronicle" (2012) and "End of Watch" (2012), each of which used the technique in moderately clever — and, more importantly, moderately plausible — ways.
Plausibility, of course, has never really mattered to fans of found footage. After all, how many of us would, upon hearing something go bump in the night, grab a camera instead of a baseball bat? If that's you're idea of normal behavior, take heart: "Paranormal Activity 5," which is expected to resume the main storyline abandoned by "The Marked Ones," is scheduled for release in October.