Over the last decade and a half, the found footage genre has become a viable Hollywood moneymaker. The basic concept is that amateur film is discovered and then presented in a manner that captures the feel and "vision" of the original cameraperson.
The film that started this trend was 1999's "The Blair Witch Project" and, thanks to its success, many copycats have emerged, most often utilizing the technique to scare their audiences. (There must be something about unsteady camerawork being most effective in horror movies.) The latest member of this genre is "Project X," which uses various camera angles of a wild party to tell the story of how things get increasingly out of control. This is a somewhat strange concept for found footage, but the genre has seen several other surprise entries.
Like so many other movies that use this technique, "Paranormal Activity" is a horror film, but where it differs is that it tells a more cohesive story than most movies in its sub-genre. A critical and commercial success, the film was quickly followed by "Paranormal Activity 2" and "Paranormal Activity 3," both of which tarnished the original to varying degrees. A fourth film is being planned for release later this year.
Not only is "Redacted" not a horror movie, but it aims to be a realistic -- if largely fictionalized -- "fly on the wall" look into the darker side of war. The results are mixed, but the filming technique is rather impressive at times.
Despite its decent prerelease trailers, "Apollo 18" is a bizarre and largely pointless exercise in shaky-cam filming and extraterrestrial rocks.
Filmmaker J. J. Abrams uses various found-footage techniques in a lot of his work (check out the unsteady cameras and use of screen flares in 2009's "Star Trek" for proof). The Abrams-produced "Cloverfield" went all the way, producing an exciting and involving monster flick. Think of it as "Godzilla" from the view of the screaming humans.
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- Paranormal Activity