The global popularity of found footage horror movies is largely due to the gritty realism offered by the genre. What is scarier than being lulled into believing, even if just for a second, that the film you are watching is real?
Our team of found footage experts set out to find the ten creepiest found footage horror movies that were made into movie franchises! You heard us right, ten found footage movie franchises! We explore the quintessential favorites, including The Blair Witch Project (1999) and Paranormal Activity (2007). For diehard found footage fans, we also introduce some lesser known movie franchises you may not have heard of.
Before you start reading, press record on your camcorder, turn off the lights, and switch on night vision. And most importantly…get ready to be creeped out! Films are listed in no particular order or ranking.
1. Blair Witch Films
The Blair Witch Series is considered by many as the defining franchise in the found footage Genre. The first film, The Blair Witch Project (1999) was created, written, and directed by Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick. This fan favorite is considered by many as the film that propelled found footage horror movies into popular culture. The Blair Witch Project (1999) is also the first film to use the Internet as the primary means of marketing a feature movie.
As with most popular films, the success of The Blair Witch Project (1999) demanded a sequel. Sure enough, Hollywood attempted to cash-in on the success of the first film with a quickly released sequel: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000). The sequel featured interviews of famous personalities of the time such as Roger Ebert, Jay Leno, and Conan O’Brien, to name a few. Unfortunately, The Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000) was not well received, thus ending the reign of Blair Witch. . . or has it?
In 2016, the series was resurrected with a proper sequel to the original film. The very existence of the sequel was a closely guarded secret. Furthermore, the film was only known to the public with the working title “The Woods.” In the summer of 2016, The Woods was revealed to be a sequel to The Blair Witch Project (1999).
During fall 2016, Blair Witch (2016) was released in theaters nationwide. Blair Witch (2016) was directed by Adam Wingard and written by Simon Barrett. Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett are no strangers to found footage, having worked on segments of the popular found footage anthology series V/H/S.
Even by today’s standards, The Blair Witch Project (1999) remains as one of the creepiest found footage horror movies of all time.
Three film students vanish after traveling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind. The sequel is set twenty years later, where the sibling of one of the missing film students embarks on a mission to uncover the whereabout of his missing sister.
2. Paranormal Activity Films
If The Blair Witch Project (1999) is the grandaddy of found footage films, then Paranormal Activity (2007), is the favored stepchild. Paranormal Activity (2007) is most notably credited with popularizing the use of surveillance camera style footage in found footage films. Other achievements include the use of a low-level background hum preceding a paranormal event.
The Paranormal Activity Series is a collection of six films produced by Blumhouse Productions and distributed by Paramount Pictures. The series was created by Oren Peli, who wrote and directed the first film. Subsequent films in the series were written and directed by other horror writers and filmmakers. Several installments in the series still hold their own among the best found footage horror movies of all time.
A demonic presence torments a young middle-class couple who move into a suburban starter house. What starts out as a novel curiosity for the young couple quickly turns into something much more dangerous. The series goes on to explore the genesis of the evil lurking in their home. Subsequent films in the series reveal that the evil presence has been following the couple’s ancestors for generations.
3. V/H/S Films
The V/H/S series is the first anthology found footage franchise. Each film in the series contains several found footage short films tied together with a wraparound story. While the VHS films each share the same structural formula, plotwise, there is no defining story arc that spans the series.
The V/H/S series has gained popularity from the contributions of famous horror movie writers and directors, including Eduardo Sanchez, Jamie Nash, Adam Wingard, Nacho Vigalondo, and Ti West. The first film, V/H/S (2012), is the brainchild of Brad Miska, owner and founder of the horror website Bloody-Disgusting. The overwhelming popularity of V/H/S (2012) sparked the development of two additional films, forever cementing the series in the horror film community.
The V/H/S series explores short tales of terror told from the creative minds of famous horror movie writers and directors. Each film includes a series of short narratives that are loosely linked together by a wraparound story.
4. [REC] Films
The [REC] series is a found footage film series from Spain and directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza. The films follow the investigation of a viral outbreak in an apartment building that turns people into carnivorous zombies. Many horror fans consider the first film, [REC] (2007) as a groundbreaking contribution to the found footage genre. A United States version of the film, Quarantine (2009), was created two years after the release of [REC] (2007).
While the [REC] series consists of four films, only the first two are found footage films. We should note that all of the films in the [REC] series are in Spanish language with English subtitles. The lack of English dialog should not dissuade fans of horror movies from watching this seminal series.
As far as horror movies are concerned, the [REC] series is considered a tried and true classic that is not to be missed.
The film series opens with a television reporter and cameraman investigating a viral outbreak in a residential apartment building. Shortly thereafter, the local authorities quarantine the building to contain the contagion. The second film in the franchise follows a government team sent into the quarantined building to determine the root cause of the fast spreading illness. Subsequent films in the series cover additional outbreaks of the same illness at a wedding and ocean liner at sea.
5. Grave Encounters Films
The Grave Encounters series is about the crew of a ghost-hunting reality show and their investigation into finding evidence of paranormal activity. The series consists of two found footage horror films, released during the early explosion of the found footage genre. The Grave Encounters series is perhaps best known for its creepy atmosphere and abundance of classic jump scares.
The series was filmed in Canada and written by Stuart Ortiz and Colin Minihan, also known as “The Vicious Brothers.” The formula established in Grave Encounters (2011) was highly influential to future released found footage ghost films taking place in abandoned facilities.
Today the Grave Encounters series has earned cult status. The film ranks among the found footage horror movies to watch during the Halloween season.
The Grave Encounters series is about a ghost-hunting reality show. In the first film, the production crew locks themselves inside a supposedly haunted abandoned mental hospital. The sequel follows a film student obsessed with the footage from the first film and sets out with his friend to visit the same abandoned hospital in the original film.
6. August Underground Films
The August Underground series is among the most graphically explicit found footage horror movies ever created. At the very least, the series is arguably the most controversial and is not for the faint of heart. The August Underground series was directed by Fred Vogel and co-written by Allen Peters.
Many critics in the horror movie community hail the series as revolutionary. Conversely, pundits argue that the series lacks artistic value and is gratuitous graphic violence in the thin veil of a film.
Director Fred Vogel is credited with creating the unique signature look and texture that carries across the series. The films are presented as highly aged VHS tapes. The poor picture quality serves the secondary purpose of masking the details of the many graphically explicit gore effects. Not only is the August Underground series polarizing in the horror movie community, but the films are also revolutionary in the cinematic techniques they continue to contribute to the found footage genre.
In the first film of the franchise, two serial killers go on a murdering rampage as one films the outcome from behind a video camera. In subsequent films, the two murderers invite a newcomer to join in a new killing spree and continue their violence unleashed during the first two films.
7. Raw Films
The Raw series is a collection of three found footage horror movies from Germany. The series was created and directed by Marcel Walz and follows investigations into the legend of a witch called Grete Müller in a haunted forest.
Germany has always had a strong fanbase for found footage horror movies. Fortunately (for the rest of the world), this interest in found footage films has extended to German directors, who have created many great found footage films of their own over the years. To date, the Raw series stands as the only found footage movie franchise from Germany.
Like most found footage horror movies from Germany, the Raw series is filmed in German language with English subtitles. Germany has contributed a significant number of good found footage horror films to the genre and this series is worth watching.
The first film in the series follows a group of teenagers who go supposedly haunted forest to shoot a documentary about a legendary witch by the name of Grete Müller. In the second film, the lone survivor of the documentary crew is contacted by a TV production company to shoot her version of the story about the legend of Grete Müller. The final film in the series revisits the infamous forest, revealing more about the unearthly legend.
8. Head Case Films
The Head Case series consists of four found footage horror movies surrounding the serial killer Wayne Montgomery, who committed 41 murders between 1970 and 2007. Each film consists of recovered footage recounting the history of the ruthless killer.
The series was filmed in the United States and written and directed by Anthony Spadaccini. The series as a whole has polarized viewers, many offering director Anthony Spadaccini critical acclaim for his series. Meanwhile, others have shot down the film for being unnecessarily violent and disturbing, in large part due to the on-screen violence and gore.
Director Anthony Spadaccini told Found Footage Critic that he has plans to add more films to the Head Case series. During summer 2017, he is filming the fifth installment, called Viscera. In this latest film, the sole survivor of a family tragedy is forced to face the truth about the events that changed his life a decade earlier.
For viewers intrigued by the inner workings of the mind of a serial killer and his victims, the Head Case series offers a glimpse into that dark world.
The Head Case series presents a chronology of serial killer Wayne and Andrea Montgomery through the lens of a recovered home video library of detailing his life and horrific crimes. The first film, Head Case (2007) looks at the Wayne and Andrea Montgomery’s quiet, suburban lives, and the disturbing details of their heinous acts. In the second film, The Ritual (2009), the authorities identify Wayne Montgomery as a murderer, but he evades capture. More footage is left behind providing insight into his life. The final two films, Post-Mortem (2010) and Head Cases: Serial Killers in the Delaware Valley (2013), present footage of a new generation of killers following in the footsteps of Wayne Montgomery’s legacy.
9. Jennifer Films
The Jennifer series is a quickly growing collection of found footage comedy/horror movies spawned from the mind of James Cullen Bressack. The first film in the series follows a man obsessed with his ex-girlfriend Jennifer. Subsequent films take the “Jennifer obsession” concept to whole new comedic and horrific levels. The Jennifer films are best seen rather than described here in words!
James Cullen Bressack plays a character in each film and directed the first feature, To Jennifer (2014). Hunter Johnson directed the second installment, 2 Jennifer (2015). Frank Merl directed the third film, #FromJennifer (2017), expected to be released during summer 2017.
If you like comedies and horror movies, and you have a thing for Jennifers, then this is the franchise for you! But wait, there’s more! With the third film still awaiting a release date, a fourth Jennifer film was announced for 2018: 4 Jennifer (2018). Jody Barton is directing the fourth film. Get your Jennifer fix and watch the Jennifer series.
The first film in the series, Jennifer (2014), follows a man obsessed with getting back together with his ex-girlfriend Jennifer. Each subsequent sequel explores the Jennifer obsession in a whole new (and insane) light.
10. Creep Films
The Creep series is a trilogy of found footage horror movies produced by Blumhouse Productions. The series is a trilogy is about a man who is not at all what he appears to be. The first film in the series was released in 2014 and the remaining two films are in various stages of production.
We admit that it’s a stretch to call a film with one actual release a “franchise.” However, Creep 2 (2017) is currently in development, so the series is a foregone conclusion.
The first film in the series, Creep (2014), was a critical and financial success for Blumhouse Productions. Lead actor Mark Duplass turns an astounding performance as the main antagonist and will make his reprisal in the second film.
The first film in the trilogy follows a videographer who answers a Craigslist ad for a one-day job in a remote mountain town. He finds his client is not at all what he initially seems. The plot for the second and third films are pending release.
Click here to see our official Creep Film Franchise Page — Exclusive Creep Film Reviews, Trailers, and Podcasts!
Browse All Found Footage Franchises on Found Footage Critic
Are you still looking for your found footage fix? Look no further. Below you will find every found footage franchise known to mankind. If you’re looking for aliens, ghosts, evil spirits, monsters, or sadistic slasher, you’ll find them in our found footage movie franchise catalog.
Jack Hunter’s Paranoia Tapes Series The Jack Hunter’s Paranoia Tapes series is a found footage film anthology series produced by Jack Hunter (Southern Psykos Productions). Each entry in the series is comprised of found footage short films tied together with a wraparound story. Click here to visit the movie franchise page!
Paranormal Farm Series The Paranormal Farm series is a found footage film series directed by Carl Medland. The films follow paranormal investigator Carl Medland on a remote farm and country house. The couple who own the farm put out an advert for a paranormal investigator after their daughter went missing in the woods. Since their daughter’s disappearance, nothing has been the same around the farm. What Carl captures is unsettling and truly terrifying. Click here to visit the movie franchi...[Read More]
Blackwell Ghost Series The Blackwell Ghost series is a found footage film series following a journalist who goes on an adventure to prove that ghosts exist. Reviews The Blackwell Ghost (2017) – Review Click here to visit the movie franchise page!