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A Critical Reassessment of Found Footage Horror

The aim of this article is twofold. On the one hand, it offers a survey of found footage horror since the turn of the millennium that begins with The Blair Witch Project (1999) and ends with Devils Due (2014). It identifies notable thematic strands and common formal characteristics in order to show that there is some sense of coherence in the finished look and feel of the films generally discussed under this rubric. On the other hand, the article seeks to reassess the popular misunderstanding that found footage constitutes a distinctive subgenre by repositioning it as a framing technique with specific narrative and stylistic effects.

Gothic Studies

Peter Kay important for coding a programme as a spoof? Why has the work of Chris Morris has aroused such controversy? What aspects of his work have caused opposition from authority figures, including politicians? Rockumentary / Mockumentary: This Is Spinal Tap (1984) Comedic parodies of the documentary genre, often called ‘mockumentaries’, are now an established format

in Laughing matters
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in these media as they developed over time, in Chapter 6 we discusses the disrespect with which comedy treats generic boundaries, looking in particular at comedy westerns, musical comedies and so-called mockumentaries. As the comic impetus finds its targets within the forms that surround and compete with it, the chapter discusses what this urge towards hybridising and self-reflexivity demands of its makers and audiences

in Laughing matters
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Documentary world views

Watching the world wide array of material, and no watertight barrier exists between the two.9 While the films analysed in this book, not to mention new television hybrids, from wildlife shows to so-called ‘gamedocs’,10 borrow devices from fiction and entertainment forms, the rhetorics of documentary and reality television are deployed in a plethora of dramas, fiction films and ‘mockumentaries’.11 Nevertheless, a sense of difference persists, even while there is no automatic consensus about the exact location of the lines of demarcation between fiction and documentary

in Watching the world
Mapping post-alternative comedy

its ‘mockumentary’ style, but its particular approach to filming and performing comedy. As critic David Jenkins notes, the film ‘doesn’t have any “jokes”, per se … Gags are built around deadpan edits and dialogue pauses rather than slick punchlines’ (Ibid.: 80). The news/factual TV satire of Chris Morris (The Day Today, Brass Eye), the ‘mockumentary’ format (Human Remains, People Like Us, The Office) and the fake chat show host or interviewer made TV-about-TV one of the major comic modes of post-1990s TV comedy. We might also add the noteperfect retro look of Garth

in Cult British TV comedy
From laugh track to commentary track

, his extensive experience prior to it). A DVD commentary can constitute a comic performance in itself. Thomas Doherty identifies two types of comic pleasure that the commentary track can provide – the ‘gag audio track’ (This is Spinal Tap! extending the ‘mockumentary’ to the DVD 3885 Cult British TV Comedy:Layout 1 142 14/12/12 07:53 Page 142 Cult British TV comedy intratext, performed in character) and the ‘sassy raconteur’ (2001: 79). He finds John Waters such a fine example of the latter that Cecil B. Demented is transformed from a ‘merely semi-amusing film

in Cult British TV comedy
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are reflected in the widespread coverage of air travel, airlines and airports in newspapers and television news programmes, as well as numerous representations in popular culture. Novels, television drama series (like Mile High and Pan Am) and sundry Hollywood movies glamorise and satirise the world of international airlines and airports. Fly-on-the-wall documentaries such as Airline, Airport, Luton Airport, Nothing to Declare and Stansted, and even mockumentaries like Come Fly With Me, have captured the popular imagination with their everyday portrayals of

in The politics of airport expansion in the United Kingdom
From ‘cringe’ to ‘dark’ comedy

which they may feel uneasy’ (2010: 213). However, he 3885 Cult British TV Comedy:Layout 1 From ‘cringe’ to ‘dark’ comedy 14/12/12 07:53 Page 167 167 suggests that one can also encourage laughter by appearing to deny the audience this permission by presenting a joke as ‘apparently serious’. The Office’s ‘mockumentary’ style could be taken as an example of appearing to deny its audience permission to laugh as a way of generating more laughter. However, unlike Peep Show, which signals its comic intent more consistently, The Office sometimes genuinely seems to

in Cult British TV comedy
The documentary ‘boom’

confronted with a host of formal innovations and new hybrids, such as formatted documentaries, celebrity vehicles and ‘mockumentaries’. But to argue that no documentaries mobilise or engage with such a discourse would be overstated and inaccurate, even in this new landscape. Smith, ‘Reel life drama’, pp. 118–19, italics in original. As will become apparent in my case studies, some of the distinctions made in the 28 6/28/2007, 10:38 AM 29 The documentary ‘boom’ 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 02chap one.p65 Empire piece, particularly between documentary and reality

in Watching the world
Metrosexuality and The Murder of Stephen Lawrence

points out, this view patronisingly assumes an audience who, unlike the critics themselves, are easily confused when it comes to distinguishing between factual and fictional programmes (Petley, 1996: 17). Further, although they use the ‘grammar of the documentary’, mockumentaries like The Office never directly ‘announce’ themselves as drama, whilst in fact Stephen Lawrence clearly did so in a disclaimer at the start of the programme. This is because all dramatic reconstructions of actual events on television are legally required to do so (which as a TV critic Raven

in Beyond representation