Every article on found footage horror must open with a comment on the ubiquitous nature of the genre. They’re everywhere. They’re cheap. They’re profitable. Typically there’s a hint of derision, the thought that the filmmakers were too cheap to shoot an actual film and thus cobbled together a couple people off the street and cameras at the local Best Buy to shoot a movie and turn a profit. The thought that the genre is less an art form but more a commodity. At their very best though, found footage transcends such complaining, blurring fact and fiction, convincing viewers the illusions projected onto a screen are in fact reality. Cannibal Holocaust, Man Bites Dog, The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity all deftly walked this tight rope between fiction & non. That there have been so many pale imitations in their wake shouldn’t reflect poorly on the genre or these films itself.
But what can be learned from the ‘successful’ found footage film? How can one emulate the best of while avoiding the mistakes of the many? This week’s found footage horror entry The Gallows certainly attempts to recapture the particular ‘magic’ of its predecessors. Filmed independently with unknown actors playing heightened versions of themselves (alla Blair Witch), The Gallows focuses on a quartet of high-school students terrorized after hours by an unseen malicious spirit (alla Paranormal Activity).
At the film’s press day, filmmakers Travis Cluff & Chris Lofing discussed which found footage films they looked to for inspiration, what can be gleaned from watching them and how they applied such lessons to The Gallows. For the full interview, watch below. The Gallows opens in theaters July 10th.
Travis Cluff & Chris Lofing:
- What theatrical superstitions did Cluff and Lofing draw from for the film?
- Do the duo have a favorite ghost story?
- What found footage films did they aspire to?
- What particular lessons did they glean from previous found footage films?
- How does their directorial team work? How do they split duties?
- What was the writing process on The Gallows?