This article is part of our 2020 Rewind. Follow along as we explore the best and most interesting movies, shows, performances, and more released in this very strange year.In this entry, we explore how 2020 made found footage movies interesting again.
While large film productions have been halted and delayed due to COVID-19, that doesn’t mean all filmmaking has stopped. Trapped in their homes for the safety of themselves and others, horror filmmakers have let isolation breed creativity as they discover new ways to create genre filmmaking without ever having to leave their homes. Zoom becomes their studio, and high-quality footage is replaced with the grainy, low-quality images that come from recording a video call.
These films are not only creative in how they craft low budget yet effective scares that are limited to the scope of a webcam or a cellphone video. They are able to take the domestic space, the place where everyone must stay in the name of safety and health, and make it even more threatening. While the home turning sinister is a common trope in horror, these 2020 found footage movies compound that even more because there is no way to truly escape. They are either the creatures living in your home or the virus outside of your door, threatening the lives of you and the ones you love.
The best example of such filmmaking is Rob Savage’s Host, which began as a short video uploaded to Twitter. In the original video, which was a prank created and executed by Savage, he tells his friends on Zoom that he’s been hearing something in his attic. His friends, who believe it is real, are forced to follow him up a ladder, into the attic, and experience the terror of his “discovery.”
Savage’s prank video went viral and he was offered the opportunity to make it a feature, which was entirely filmed remotely. Actors were sent microphones and other necessary gear that they set up on their own; everyone on camera was a one-person production team who set up their own sound, lighting, and more. It is a collaborative process, more so than any Hollywood release, as each actor was forced to acquire new skills and invest their time and energy into not only their performances, but into set design, sound design, and more.