A subtrope of Literary Agent Hypothesis
, this trope comes into two forms:
- The movie itself is billed as being the footage of some lost film crew who went off to make a movie (generally a documentary) and never returned. The film is presented as being a compilation of all the footage that was eventually found, telling the story of their last days. Viral marketing is used to make the audience believe this is real.
- Similar to the first, but no attempt is made to make the audience think this is real. Here we may be following characters who search for the footage, eventually finding it. Said characters may be related to the missing film crew. This is a variant of Show Within a Show.
This trope always includes plenty of P.O.V. Cam
and In-Universe Camera
, with the cameraman being a character. Because of the format and the fact that something bad happening to the characters is a Foregone Conclusion
(because the footage would not have had to be "found" otherwise), this trope is particularly popular in horror movies.
Compare with Mockumentary
- The Blair Witch Project is perhaps the Trope Codifier for type 1, and one of the most known example of the genre in general.
- Diary of the Dead
- Cannibal Holocaust follows type 2, and was so graphic with its Gorn the director had to show that the stars of the movie were still alive to a federal court. People thought the Show Within a Show found footage was real. It is also the Trope Maker for the whole genre.
- The Cinema Snob filmed his review by using this trope too (as a type 2) with his wife and a detective finding his review as lost footage while investigating his disappearance. Making it found footage of someone watching a found footage film.
- Paranormal Activity and it's sequel are type 1. Unlike most of the genre, they are mostly based off security camera footage.
- The Last Exorcism: Type 1, following a film crew attempting to debunk exorcisms.
- Cloverfield: is sort of Type 2 as there is an opening screen identifying the found footage, and obviously New York was not destroyed in real life.
- The direct to DVD rip-off film Monster is entirely type 1 as it presents the film as the "true story" of an actual earthquake that hit Tokyo -stating it was really a monster attack and was covered up.
- The Troll Hunter is an example of Type 1, though oddly enough the marketing for the movie (at least in the U.S.), pretty much ignores the pseudo-documentary aspects of the movie, perhaps on the theory that the Blair Witch Project style viral marketing is too played-out.
- Subverted Real Life example: In Grizzly Man there's Found Audio of Tim and his girlfriend being killed & eaten by bears. Director/star Hertzog listens to it on camera, but we don't hear it. Grizzly Man also includes found footage Tim had made before he was killed.
- Marble Hornets manages to be particularly confusing about this. At first, Jay is just searching through old found footage his friend gave him, then he starts filming things himself, and later he goes through old footage of himself that he found but doesn't remember recording. The show takes the "realism" to another level by directly involving its youtube and twitter accounts as part the show, along with an additional youtube account.