"Mind saying that for the camera?": Variations on First-Person Horror
First-person horror, also referred to as “found-footage horror, “mock-documentary horror,” or “point-of-view horror,” is a key postmodern cycle of horror films that became popular in the 1980s and 1990s and flourished throughout the 2000s and early 2010s. This course broadly examines the history, aesthetical/technical innovations, and ideological implications of the first-person horror film. The primary concern is two-fold: how do first-person horror films use (and abuse?) documentary codes and conventions to blur the distinction between reality and fiction, and, consequently, how do they manipulate the spectator’s expectations and experiences? This course will consider three films that represent key moments in the style’s history: Cannibal Holocaust (1980), The Blair Witch Project (1999), and Unfriended (2014/15). This three-week course will consider each film within the broader trends of the first-person horror canon, as well as their specific industrial, aesthetic, and ideological contexts, with the aim of understanding the conditions of both their popularity and controversies.