Time to rant about 1st person films: One reason, for me, that 1st person (shaky cam) Films are hard to watch is NOT the shaky camera work, or the fact that everyone has tried to cash in on The Blair Witch Project, for me its the cliché dialogue and the predictable characters.
People tend to hate on The Blair Witch Project these days, even people my age, which makes zero sense. Back when it was first released, the marketing for BWP was genius. They had EVERYONE fooled into believing that what you were seeing was real. Maybe that’s where the hate comes in, people are ashamed to admit that they were duped by a marketing campaign.
Since then, we’ve had so many 1st Person Films that you can’t swing a dead cat around without hitting one. Some are good, some are trash, but they have all failed to live up to BWP (with the possible exception of Cloverfield). The VHS franchise had me excited at first and then completely lost me with VHS Viral…I’ve seen better film on teeth.
I HATE horrible writing, but just about EVERY-SINGLE-1ST PERSON FILM has the same elements. They all seem to follow the same formula, and it’s irritating. It’s almost as if the writers follow the same worksheet when creating characters for the film;
1) The moron who is working the camera but always says “I’ve never used one before.” but somehow they manage just fine. And they continue to film everything, somehow, while being chased and scared. The one thing that The Blair Witch Project did, that others fail to do, is that it actually seemed real. The camera doesn’t always catch a glimpse of what the actors are seeing and reacting to as they are running for their lives.
2) The one person who never wants to be on film. They complain about the camera being there. When the camera is on them, they shy away and don’t speak. Sure, camera shy people do exist, but in the case of potentially being killed, I think being shy is the last thing on your mind.
3) The “Tape Everything” guy. This douche is what keeps the movie going, sure, but is it really necessary to say that? They’ve filmed everything that’s happened so far, why stop now? It’s almost as if it’s some sort of unwritten law that someone always has to say “Get everything on film, we NEED it!”
4) The idiot who’s never seen a camera before. There’s always one person who looks right at the camera and says “Whats that?” Seriously? You must have been raised in the wild because EVERYONE on Earth has seen a camera EXCEPT you. Lost cannibal tribes in the rainforest know what a camera is by now, but its a total freaking mystery to at least 1 person?!
Oh yea, and 5…the dick head who HATES the camera. “Why are you pointing that camera at me? Get that camera out of my face!”…yep, this is probably the worst character of all. He’s tense, he’s a bad apple, he’s the Johnny badass of the group who hates his picture taken. Come on, shut up.
What follows is a story about a monster, or a ghost, or a killer. Filmed by the victims, who all seem to die, and their tapes are found years later. It’s tired. It’s done. Recreate the formula.
I love the idea of “found footage” movies. I love the raw realism of them if they’re done correctly. Megan is Missing and the Poughkeepsie Tapes comes to mind as those who thought outside the box and left the viewer stunned and full of emotion. I highly suggest both… Maybe, just maybe, future filmmakers can truly capture the pure real shock horror that 1st Person Films were meant to capture, until then we have to deal with shit shows like the latest Blair Witch film.