Top 10 Terrifying Scenes In Found Footage Movies

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Top 10 Terrifying Scenes In Found Footage Movies

VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
The style of filmmaking is divisive, but it's given us some incredible frights. For this list, we'll be looking at the most terrifying and unsettling scenes in found footage horror movies. Our countdown includes "Creep", "Paranormal Activity", "The Blair Witch Project", and more!
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Top 10 Scariest Found Footage Moments in Movies


The style of filmmaking is divisive, but it’s given us some incredible frights. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 scariest found footage moments in movies.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most terrifying and unsettling scenes in found footage movies. Please note, there will be spoilers ahead.

#10: The Wolf Mask

“Creep” (2014)
Aaron, a freelance videographer, ventures to a remote cabin to film a man named Josef. Claiming to have a brain tumor, Josef says he wants to film himself for his unborn son before he dies. However, he begins to act increasingly confrontational and eccentric, culminating in the most unsettling scene in the entire movie. Josef dons a creepy wolf mask and stands in front of the exit, barring Aaron from leaving. He also begins to growl and move his hips in a threatening fashion, like he’s getting ready to pounce. The imagery alone is disturbing, but the unbearable tension and psychological elements elevate the scene to another level. Few things are scarier than feeling trapped - especially by a dangerous man in a wolf mask.

#9: Deborah Tries to Eat Cara

“The Taking of Deborah Logan” (2014)
Much like “Creep,” “The Taking of Deborah Logan” begins rather poignantly; a documentary crew films the mental deterioration of an Alzheimer’s patient and the emotional toll it takes on her family. But, this being a found footage horror film, it obviously descends into something far more sinister. And that “sinister” thing is possession and child eating. The climax of the film sees Deborah attempting to eat young Cara by swallowing her head like a snake. The image is genuinely nightmarish, as is the brilliant use of sound. The crying and whimpering stops as the characters gaze in absolute terror at what they’re seeing, shocked into silence in the face of a sight so unimaginable.

#8: Yahtzee!

“The Visit” (2015)
M. Night Shyamalan achieved a critical comeback with “The Visit,” a found footage horror film about two teenagers meeting their grandparents for the first time. They soon realize that there’s something decidedly odd about Pop Pop and Nana … but when they try to escape, they’re made to sit down and play Yahtzee. The tension throughout is palpable, as Becca sits in clear discomfort. Things get even weirder when she leaves, as Pop Pop silently departs the room and Nana begins shoveling cookies into her mouth before screaming “Yahtzee!” into the camera. Who knew that something as innocent as Yahtzee could be so creepy?

#7: The Tent Sequence

“Willow Creek” (2013)
This 2013 film follows a young couple, Jim and Kelly, as they venture into the woods of Willow Creek, California to look for Bigfoot. The movie contains an ambitious sequence in which Jim and Kelly fearfully cower in their tent as they listen to disturbing noises outside. The sequence is shot in an unbroken take lasting nearly twenty minutes, which helps heighten the realism by really immersing the audience in the moment. Of course, a scene like this wouldn’t work without some freaky noises, and “Willow Creek” brings the heat with creepy footsteps, branches snapping, inhuman growling, and human crying. And then things start banging against the tent, bringing the scares to a fever pitch. On second thought, let’s leave Bigfoot alone.

#6: “I Hear You Don’t Believe In Me”

“The Last Exorcism” (2010)
It’s basically impossible for any demon-themed movie to measure up to “The Exorcist,” but Daniel Stamm’s “The Last Exorcism” is a worthwhile entry in the subgenre. Its originality comes in the form of its found footage style, which lends the proceedings a more grounded and believable aesthetic. Arguably the film’s best scene takes place in a barn, where the alleged demon maliciously taunts the minister. The possessed Nell arches her back in an unnatural and deeply perturbing manner before standing tall and breaking her own fingers. The creepy imagery, haunting music, and erratic camerawork combine to create the scariest scene in one of the scariest exorcism movies in recent history.

#5: Face to Face

“Cloverfield” (2008)
This monster film boasts one of the scariest endings of any found footage movie. After effectively being kept off-camera for much of the runtime, the monster at the center of the film finally reveals itself to both the audience and the characters. The scene is terrifying on a very primal level; a dangerous predator of unimaginable height stares directly into our eyes, like a cat toying with a mouse. All we can do is sit still, hold our breath, and hope that the creature passes us by. It doesn’t, and the monster seemingly bites Hud in half, adding an element of the grotesque to the already-horrifying proceedings.

#4: The Face

“Lake Mungo” (2008)
This little-known horror film takes its title from Australia’s Lake Mungo, which is where protagonist Alice gets the scare of her life. Alice takes her cell phone down to the beach, where she films a human figure slowly emerging from the darkness and creeping towards her. When it gets close enough, both the audience and Alice discover that it’s a disfigured doppelganger of Alice herself, taking the form of her future water-bloated corpse. Being forced to watch the figure slowly approach the camera is genuinely unnerving and panic-inducing. But it’s the idea of being approached by your own rotting corpse, alone and in the dark, that makes this scene so terrifying.

#3: The Staircase

“REC” (2007)
Zombie movies are a dime a dozen, but “REC” is different. One of the best entries in the found footage genre, it contains a ton of brilliant scares - including the iconic ending where Ángela is trapped inside a pitch black room with Tristana. But perhaps the scariest image of the film comes when Ángela and cameraman Pablo look over the staircase to find it littered with zombies. Placing them on the stairs was an inspired idea, as it activates the fight or flight response and makes the viewer feel just as trapped and panicked as the characters. The image of the zombies is effective in its own right, but when a recently-zombified Manu looks up and screeches into the camera, it's downright bloodcurdling.

#2: Dragged by the Demon

“Paranormal Activity” (2007)
The ghostly scares of “Paranormal Activity” begin in a relatively minor and derivative fashion, complete with flickering lights and weird noises. Then things escalate to shrieking and slamming doors and creepy footprints in baby powder. And just when things couldn’t possibly get any scarier, Katie is dragged from the bed by an unseen force. The scare works thanks to the movie’s sense of escalation. We expect something major and destructive by this point, and what we actually get is far more effective and visceral. We don’t get to see what happens after Katie is dragged from the room. And what’s left to the imagination proves scarier than anything we could have possibly seen.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Not Who You Think It Is, “Grave Encounters” (2011)
Ghost Hunting Turns Downright Demonic with This Classically Effective Jump Scare

The Basement, “Hell House LLC” (2015)
Creepy Basement + Moving Clown Heads = Outright Terror

The Crawling Mask, “The Poughkeepsie Tapes” (2007)
We Don’t Know What That’s All About & Quite Frankly, We Don’t Want To

What’s in Ken’s Room?, “Unfriended” (2014)
Yep, Something Is Clearly Wrong Here…

Derek’s Transformation, “Afflicted” (2013)
We’ve Seen a Lot of Vampire Attacks in Our Time, But This One Is Something Else

#1: The Shaking Tent

“The Blair Witch Project” (1999)
This movie was divisive with audiences, but let’s give credit where credit is due - it reinvented and revitalized the found footage subgenre. Much like “Paranormal Activity,” “The Blair Witch Project” relies on gradual escalation, moving from unsettling to outright terrifying. The most iconic scene in the film sees the trio stuck inside the tent as they listen to creepy noises outside. These include footsteps, branches snapping, and perhaps most frightening of all, children laughing. And then the tent starts shaking and all hell breaks loose. The tent scene in “Willow Creek,” while scary, is essentially a carbon copy of this legendary sequence that scared audiences senseless back in 1999. We never actually see anything - but that’s precisely what makes it so scary.
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