10 Non-Horror Found Footage Movies You Can Watch Without Covering Your Eyes

While it has slowed in recent years, found footage was once a dominant subgenre in cinema. Although it was used sparingly throughout the medium in earlier decades, this was not the case until the 1999s The Blair Witch Project that the film technique found popularity. Many independent filmmakers recognized the unique terror offered by the horror film format and used it to create low-budget films with intrusive horrors.

RELATED: Best Found Footage Horror Movies, from ‘Rec’ to ‘Lake Mungo’

Although found footage is primarily associated with the horror genre, films in most genres have tried the technique. The concept of watching a movie in the first person has found its way into action movies, sci-fi epics, and even minor character studies. While many people viewed found footage as a fading gimmick, when used properly, it can create unforgettable experiences told from an up close and personal perspective.


‘Penalty Park’ (1971)

A police officer aims a shotgun at a kneeling man

Presented as fake documentation, penal park is set in an alternate 1970’s, with prisons operating at full capacity during the height of the Vietnam War. A new punishment is being developed for anti-war protesters who are forced to run in the desert for three days while authorities try to hunt and murder them.

penal park was seemingly ahead of its time, a film so rooted in conveying messages about unjust police brutality that it would be even more timely if released today. As a camera crew follows the suspects, their desperate plight resonates with viewers as the full extent of police brutality is shown.

‘Search’ (2018)

Live streaming of a teen with a chat bar on the side

A new age take on the found footage genre, Seek is told from the perspective of webcams and mobile phone cameras. As David (John Cho) notices that his teenage daughter Margot is missing, he searches her laptop for answers. What follows is a frantic journey down the rabbit hole as David learns new secrets about his daughter.

While the concept of a film told entirely using modern technology risks being gimmicky, Seek avoids these pitfalls by telling a gripping story that immediately engages the viewer. Cho is great in the lead role and he carries the film on his shoulders while refusing to give up on his daughter in this great techo thriller.

Zero Day (2003)

Two teenagers film themselves in night vision goggles

Released four years after the Columbine High School massacre, zero day is a fictionalized version of the tragedy. When students Andre and Cal decide to commit a similar crime at their high school, they film themselves in the days before while planning the shoot, hoping to find fame after their deaths.

The most haunting aspect of zero day It feels real that these perpetrators and the crime they commit could have been snatched from the headlines today. Despite being almost twenty years old, his storyline is still sadly relevant in modern society as his confronting story has lost none of the impact that made it controversial upon publication.

‘Project X’ (2012)

Three teenagers in a crowd

If you thought your teenage parties were playing gloriole cooperative were crazy wait ’til you see what the boys got in there Project X stand up. When three teenagers decide to throw a high school party to popularize them, things quickly spiral out of control as the party goes viral, leading to massive property damage and other crimes.

True, it lacks the same laughter and charm Very bad, Project X is worth a watch for anyone who enjoys this classic comedy. The found footage aspect of the film sets it apart and it’s unique to see the technique used in a comedy. The result is a film that feels like a party gone awry that someone recorded with their phone and uploaded online.

‘Trollhunters’ (2010)

The crew encounters a troll in Trollhunter

While troll hunter is often thrown into the horror genre, it belongs more in the field of fantasy, since the core of the film is about documenting the mythical creature instead of being terrorized by it. When three students in Norway decide to make a documentary about strange bear killings in the wild, they discover the culprit is a giant troll.

Although the found footage genre is dominated by films about teenagers who get lost in the woods, troll hunter stands out for its fantasy focus and snowy Norwegian backdrop. The film succeeds by sticking to its ridiculous premise and not taking itself seriously while its characters learn about this fantastical world that exists alongside our own.

“The Dirty Ones” (2013)

Two teenagers are leaning against a wall

Tired of being bullied, teenagers Matt and Owen decide to make a movie about killing their bullies in the name of revenge. When screening the film leads to even more humiliation, plans to make the film a reality lead to dangerous consequences as Matt prepares for a real school shooting.

Despite its heavy subject The dirty ones will make you laugh surprisingly, as the petty arguments between the two leads feel believable. That’s probably the greatest compliment you can give The dirty onesthat it feels real as Matt and Owen feel like two kids that we either knew in high school or were ourselves.

The dirty ones can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video.

‘Chronicle’ (2012)

Three friends explore a cave
Image via 20th Century Fox

A unique take on the superhero genre, narrated through found footage, timeline is an informed account of the classic superhero origin story. When three teenagers discover a strange hole at a party, the crystalline object inside gives them telekinetic powers. At first they use them for fun and to prank others, but their power fantasy soon turns deadly.

Released just before superheroes exploded at the box office, timeline uses the genre to tell a story that focuses more on disenfranchised youth. Stars Dane DeHaan, Alex Russeland Michael B Jordan All deliver great performances as ordinary teenagers who find themselves in a situation they are far from equipped to deal with.

timeline can be streamed on Hulu.

“Man Bites Dog” (1992)

A man aims a gun at the screen

When an amateur film crew decides to follow Ben, a charming serial killer, they are drawn into his world of darkness. As the filmmakers document his every heinous act against his innocent victims, they become implicated in his crimes and eventually become his accomplices in one of the best mockumentaries of the ’90s.

man bites dog was controversial upon release due to its graphic nature and despite its black and white presentation remains a confronting watch even today. What makes the film work is the central performance by Benoit Poolverde, whose portrayal of the psychopath Ben is as captivating as it is terrifying, reciting poetry as he commits murder.

man bites dog can be streamed on HBO Max.

‘End of the Watch’ (2012)

A policeman with a gun
Image via Open Road Films

Told through body cam and patrol car footage, end of the watch follows the cop Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Zavala (Michael Pena). As the film explores the close relationship between the two cops, they suddenly find themselves in danger after a gang leader beats them up.

end of the watch puts viewers in the shoes of the LAPD, showing both the mundane and dangerous sides of working for the law. The higher the stakes, the more intense the film’s pushiness as Taylor and Zavala grow closer to forced “early retirement.”

‘District 9’ (2009)

Law enforcement at the foreigner's doorstep

While district 9 Since it’s only partly found footage, it’s still one of the best films in the genre. Set in Johannesburg, which has been overrun by alien refugees, the film begins with a camera crew following Wikus (Sharlto Copleyin one of his best performances), a government employee who was sent to relocate the alien’s refugee camp.

As the action escalates in the film, it transitions into a more traditional cinematic style, but those early moments of Wikus and the film crew at camp are some of the best parts of district 9. The documentary style goes a long way in selling the aliens’ poor living conditions in the filthy slums they are forced to live in and helps make their plight that much more sympathetic.

district 9 can be streamed on HBO Max.

READ MORE: 10 Feature-Length Movies That Started As Short Films


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