Found Footage/Forbidden Files

Regular visitors have probably noticed that here at Wondercabinet, we aren’t afraid to admit or indulge our guilty pleasures and one of them is watching found footage horror flicks. Despite the legion of critics with suspension of disbelief disorder who began snarking up to dance on its grave shortly after the 1999 release of the Blair Witch Project, the genre is still alive and not going anywhere anytime soon. Sure, there are ten silly duds (too many to mention) for every decent offering (Noroi, The Bay, Paranormal Activity) and ten decent offerings for every true gem (REC, Lake Mungo, Trollhunter), but those stats apply to just about every style and trend in Hollywood and with their implicitly low budgets, to expect otherwise would be putting a lot of a blind faith in a shaky camera. The fact of the matter is “found material” as a storytelling device is not a modern invention, not even in the service of scaring people. The letters, diary excerpts, and ships’ log entries that comprise Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula, the similarly epistolary frame story of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, even the device of the twice-told tale as used by Nathaniel Hawthorne in”Rappacini’s Daughter” and Washington Iriving in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” are all much earlier examples of yarn spinners trying to thread a little real-world barbwire into your dreaming bonnet. Cannibal Holocaust (1980), Ruggero Deodato’s over-the-top exploitation flick is usually held up as the first cinematic entry (the movie was so effective its director was arrested for making a real snuff film), but The Legend of Boggy Creek beat it to the pulled punch by eight years. Often lost in between those early examples and the genre-defining Blair Witch are a series of effective little shorts by French director Jean-Teddy Filippe collectively called Les Documents Interdits or The Forbidden Files. Initially broadcast in 1989, they are lovingly preserved on youtube for your Halloween delectation.