When ‘The Blair Witch Project’ was released in 1999, it brought in a wave of change in the horror genre. The film tells the story of three student filmmakers — Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard — who hike in the Black Hills near Burkittsville, Maryland in 1994 to film a documentary about a local legend known as the “Blair Witch”. However, the three suddenly disappear. A year later, their disappearance is uncovered from their equipment and footage, which showcases the horror of the “Blair Witch”.
The film led to the rise of found footage horror films in the 2000s. The entire movie is unique in its storytelling style, the overall aesthetics and vision. The films mentioned below are built stylistically along the lines of this stone cold classic. Here’s the list of best movies similar to ‘The Blair Witch Project’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these movies like ‘The Blair Witch Project’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
10. August Underground (2001)
Either ‘August Underground’ will cause immense repulsion or one would cite as a brilliant piece of work. ‘August Underground’, directed by American filmmaker Fred Vogel, chronicles the exploits of a serial killer named Peter, which is filmed by his unnamed and unseen accomplice. The film, due to its extreme violence and gore, received much controversy. However, it has received a cult status for its realistic quality and showing the dark side of the serial killer. The narrative of the film is nihilistic and does not shy away from showcasing extreme torture and gore.
9. The Bay (2012)
Directed by American filmmaker Barry Levinson, ‘The Bay’ is an eco-horror film focusing on a parasite which infects humans to in the small town of Maryland and causes a humongous ecological disaster occurs. What makes ‘The Bay’ so horrifying is the sheer lunacy of a parasite entering the human body. It creates tension and stress within the viewers. ‘The Bay’ infuses the horrors of the found footage genre with the biological calamities of the parasite. The film went on to receive critical acclaim, with many praising its choice of not depending on pure blood and gore to create the sensation of horror.
8. Rec (2007)
This 2007 Spanish horror movie went unnoticed and was brushed underneath the carter due to the similar concept of the “found footage” genre and the extreme hype around ‘Paranormal Activity’. Directed by the then inexperienced directorial duo Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, ‘Rec’ follows a television reporter and his cameraman, who trace and cover several emergency workers, who walk into a dark tenement building and are quickly locked inside. What waits is the dark reality of a zombie outbreak that ruins their lives. Shot using the “shaky camera” technique, the film churns out a chaotic experience for its viewers. The aforementioned “shaky camera” technique and the dark staircases of the apartment building completely set a fiery yet subtle horrifying familiarity. With an established thematic representation infused with the technical wizardry of the directors and cinematographer Pablo Rosso, the film headed straight into the hearts of horror lovers.
7. Eyes in the Dark (2010)
Made on a slim budget, ‘Eyes in the Dark’ utilizes the economical methods of found footage filmmaking to innovate use. Directed by Bjorn Anderson, the film follows a bunch of seven college students who take a weekend trip to a lodge in the Cascade Mountains. Deciding to shoot their expedition, the students manage to capture some strange occurrences in the mountains. Chaos ensues as one realizes that the government some dangerous creature in the Pacific Northwest Mountains which cause the disappearances of the students. The narrative and style are adopted from ‘The Blaire Witch Project’ and thus, it creates a sensation of unremitting fear of an unknown entity. Premiering at the Alabama International Film Festival, ‘Eyes in the Dark’ was praised for its innovative and economical but ingenious executing of the horror genre on a micro-budget.
6. Cloverfield (2008)
A found footage monster film, ‘Cloverfield’ follows the footage shot by six young New York City residents who are fleeing from a massive monster and various other smaller creatures that attack the city while they are having a farewell party. The film is often described as a reaction to the “9/11” destruction. Much of its visual structure has been compared to that of ‘The Blair Witch Project’. Directed by American filmmaker Matt Reeves, ‘Cloverfield’ combines multiple narrative formats to create the cinéma vérité style of narrative. It uses the monster mythos with fantasy and creates the sensation of the unknown with its found-footage style of filmmaking.
5. Home Movie (2008)
Directed by debutant American filmmaker Christopher Denham, ‘Home Movie’s psychological horror film set in the remote woods of Upstate New York, where a happy couple try to live a serene life. However, their happiness is cut short when their twin children’s inexplicably bizarre behaviour seeks to wreak havoc in their lives. The found footage style shooting provides the film with a domestic sensibility which results in the viewers to relate to the situation, causing further panic. The screenplay, written by Denham himself, builds slowly causing the narrative to be slow burning and psychologically tiring apart from being unsettling. ‘Home Movie’ has not developed a strong base due to the overall horror franchise films of big production companies.
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4. Willow Creek (2013)
‘Willow Creek’ follows an adventures couple, Jim and Kelly, as they decide to visit the site of Willow Creek – a place infamous for the filming of the “Bigfoot happen”, a creature deep-rooted in myth. With hopes of being able to capture real evidence of it, their adventure quickly turns into disaster as they experience the yet undiscovered horror of the woods. Directed by American filmmaker and comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, ‘Willow Creek’ seamlessly merges the elements of horror, fantasy, adventure and drama. The device of the mysteriousness woods combined with the unknown physical reference of the creature creates the ambience of continuous tension and uncertainty. In addition, Goldthwait’s comedic chops provide several nasty laughs that manage to steer the expectations of the viewer to further develop upon the horrifying elements.
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3. Paranormal Activity (2007)
An independent feature of director Oren Peli, this 2007 flick breathed new air into the horror genre with its stunning exploration of fear using a minimalistic approach. Shot as a “found footage” retrieved from a CCTV, the film is the story of a couple, who after moving into a suburban home, experiences “paranormal actives” which look to shatter their lives. This 2007 flick brought the genre to the mainstream audiences and broke every person’s inner belief. The perceptively placed camera provides a realist essence which made even the slightest movement of a door quite horrifying. ‘Paranormal Activity’ is shot within a house and thus does not have the advantage of the unknown from the woods. However, Peli creates scares through the echoing atmospherics.
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2. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Directed by Italian filmmaker Ruggero Deodato, ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ created much buzz at the time of its release. It centres around Harold Monroe, essayed by Robert Kerman, an anthropologist from New York University who leads a rescue team into the Amazon rainforest after the disappearance of a crew of filmmakers who had gone missing while filming a documentary on local cannibal tribes. The rescue, to everyone’s horror, discovered cans of the film which belongs to the crew. This instantly attracts gigantic media attention from an American television show who wishes to broadcast the footage as a “sensationalized” television special.
However, when Monroe discovers the content, he is completely disgusted by the team’s actions and completely objects to the station’s ill-intent to air the documentary. ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ showcases the deplorable state of the media industry and consumerism through the lens of the Amazonian tribe. The movie is shocking and might be disgusting to many, given its graphic and gory violence. However, it has deep social commentary and questions the aspects of life, justice and the disgraceful commercial journalism.
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1. District 9 (2009)
Directed by South African – Canadian filmmaker Neill Blomkamp, ‘District 9’ is set in the alternate history of 1982. An alien spaceship appears over Johannesburg, in which insect-like aliens aboard the ship are discovered to be in malnourished condition. The South African government, intrigued by the creatures, confines them to an internment camp called the titular District 9. Several years later, during the government’s relocation of the aliens to another camp, one of the confined aliens named Christopher Johnson escapes with his son and return home, but cross paths with a bureaucrat named Wikus van der Merwe.
Adapted from Blomkamp’s own short film, ‘District 9’ is shot in the style of a documentary and explores the themes of the loss of humanity, xenophobia, and alienation. The film is an amalgamation of the horror and the sci-fi. The film earned high praise from several critics. Roger Ebert, in his review, wrote, “… giving us aliens to remind us not everyone who comes in a spaceship needs to be angelic, octopod or stainless steel”.
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