I’ve noticed that every few years, a new found footage horror movie comes out that is better than the rest. Only every few years, though. The last good one was Hell House LLC in 2015. After three years of mediocre, run-o-the-mill flicks, 2018 brought us The Fear Footage.
Directed by Ricky Umberger, The Fear Footage follows deputy Leo Cole as he investigates a house on a quiet street in Darkbluff, Maryland. Several neighbors have called the police because, well, the house itself isn’t supposed to be there; It had been demolished two years prior. So, Deputy Cole turns on his body cam and goes to investigate. He does indeed find a house. He goes in.
From here, the film takes a creepy turn. In the empty house, Cole notices a VHS tape in the player. This tape contains three more terrifying stories, adding to Cole’s unease. He keeps hearing noises in the house, but no one seems to be there. From here, the rest of the story plays out like a haunted house story, but with a twist. I won’t spoil that twist here.
The best thing about this movie is that it’s simple, scary, and crazy suspenseful. This film was produced on a $300 budget. What Umberger and his crew were able to accomplish with this kind of budget is remarkable. Let’s give an example… The cinematography. The cinematography is the cornerstone for the suspense and scares. Since this footage was filmed on a police officer’s body camera, it stands to reason the audience can only see what Deputy Cole sees. The crew stays true to this theory. Deputy Cole’s flashlight plays a big role in the effectiveness of the overall movie. Deputy Cole can only see what his flashlight illuminates and that goes for us, too. This method is cheap, but effective, and is a great example of using your ultra-low budget to your advantage. A decent effort from all involved.
Now for the bad. You knew there had to be a bad, right? Remember how I said that the scares and suspense are one of the best parts of this movie? Well, they’re also one of the worst parts, depending on how you like your scares and suspense. Personally, I’m not into the cheap jump scare, and this movie is full of them. Also, while the suspense does build, Umberger ruins it by adding a glitch effect on the camera before every jump scare. C’mon. The movie is essentially warning you that scaries are coming! This kills the suspense, which is a shame.
Overall, I enjoyed this movie. It’s one of my favorite found footage flicks of the decade, and certainly better than most out there. But the thing that just ruins the whole movie for me is the glitch effect. Why do you want to kill the suspense like that? You think your audience can’t handle the jump scare? Give them more credit than that.