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May 6, 20244 Mins Read

When done well, found footage horror makes for one of the most immersive and unnerving viewing experiences. The inherent naturalism tends to make the horror feel more plausible and real. Found footage horror doesn’t need a huge budget or recognizable names among the cast to induce chills, either, and the lo-fi visuals only further add to the scares.

This week’s streaming picks are dedicated to found footage horror movies that excel with the format, delivering unsettling atmosphere and scares while making the most of their immersive, lo-fi aesthetics. Here’s where you can stream them this week.

For more Stay Home, Watch Horror picks, click here.

Banshee Chapter – SCREAMBOX, the Roku Channel, Tubi

Banshee Chapter

Drawing inspiration from actual government hallucinogenic drug experiments and H.P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond, Blair Erickson’s feature debut is part found footage, part faux documentary. After her friend’s sudden disappearance, journalist Anne Roland (Katia Winter) discovers the strange and horrifying links between her friend, a government conspiracy involving a research drug, and an eerie radio broadcast of otherworldly origin. Where From Beyond went for practical effects-driven spectacle, Banshee Chapter opts for a quiet, menacing atmosphere. It’s effectively creepy. Look for The Silence of the Lambs’ Ted Levine to steal every scene he’s in, but more than that, be ready for some great scares. 

Ghostwatch – AMC+, Shudder

Ghostwatch Gillian Bevan Michael Parkinson

Upon initial airing, this made-for-TV movie stirred up controversy for the BBC, as the special Halloween event had viewers convinced that what they’d witnessed was real. It plays like a live TV special with a camera crew on-site attempting to investigate the truth behind the most haunted house in the country, one that borrows heavily from the Enfield Poltergeist. Neither they nor the viewer were prepared for the scares that would ensue—even the subtle ones. Pay close attention to every frame; Pipes hides in plain sight. Don’t skip this one, as it’s a streaming rarity.

Grave Encounters – freevee, Plex, Pluto TV, the Roku Channel, Tubi Vudu

Grave Encounters

A ghost-hunting reality TV crew get more than they bargained for when they explore an abandoned psychiatric hospital for their latest episode. The Vicious Brothers (Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz) take full advantage of the creepy setting and unleash serious, unending scares. More than typical haunted house fare, they take the narrative to mind-bending places. Grave Encounters makes for one of the more substantial and memorable entries in found footage horror.

The Medium – AMC+, Hoopla, Shudder

The Medium

Producer and co-writer Na Hong-jin’s follow-up to The Wailing continues the exploration of faith and clashing beliefs. Only this time, it’s a documentary-style nightmare set in Thailand. Co-writer/Director Banjong Pisanthanakun (Shutter) bides his time introducing the characters and setting in this slow-burn possession tale, layering in subtle background scares and atmosphere at first. Then it builds. Eerie found footage-style video of Mink’s nighttime activity grows more disturbing. Even still, it can’t prepare for the absolute insanity of the climax, delivering an onslaught of spiritual exposition and gruesome horrors with a melancholic finish.

Savageland – SCREAMBOX, Tubi, Vudu

Savageland found footage

The population of a small, Arizona-Mexico border town gets wiped out overnight, and the sole suspect is an amateur photographer. The answers and startling horror unfold through the photographer’s film roll in this documentary-style found footage entry. The micro budget effort gives a unique spin on a well-trodden subgenre of horror to creepy effect, with the images far more effective at inducing fear than jump scares. What’s more is that Savageland isn’t afraid to use its found footage setup to explore the socio-political aspect of its setting, reflected in its talking heads. Don’t expect the mysterious premise to neatly explain everything, though.

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