Adopting a "found document," first-person stance goes way back. Both Frankenstein and the original Blacula, Dracula, were written as first-person frames consisting of excerpts from letters and journals—narrative formats with which the tubercular, bedridden readers of the era were already familiar. For them, these layers of voyeurism and Peeping Tomism likely added to the frisson of horror and sexy, sexy danger evoked, respectively, by Shelley and Stoker.
But for all the emotional immediacy, a first-person cameraman/narrator is also an inherently delimiting and story-circumscribing device. Like the first-person narrator in written fiction, she's privy only to the circumstances in the immediate vicinity, reliant upon expositional angels to descend into the frame and tell her about the greater world outside. The Paranormal Activity movies have no metaphysical ambitions beyond the interior of a suburban home, and at the end of the day, for all its apocalyptic, Manhattan-obliterating scale, Cloverfield really is just a story about a bunch of trust fund douchebags having a bad night.
@LFDonaldson Thank you very much! Coincidentally enough, I was planning on having a look for articles just like this one next week!
@proctor @acbleach "Frankenstein and... Dracula were written as first-person frames" good point; been an effective device for a long time
@jdykhouse Definitely more terrifying when you are the "I" in the movie/book, experiencing terror as they see it (or don't!)
@proctor That's why horror video games scare me more than horror movies; I'm actually making the decisions, not watching an actor do it
@proctor nope, both work. In a VG I'm actually capable of dying, unlike a movie where I'll always see what happens after a character dies
@jdykhouse does it make a dif to you whether you're seeing thru the eyes if the character or watching your character full-body?
I can't believe the writer didn't mention "The Blair Witch Project"...which I believe started the current trend.
Totally not scary and just plain dumb. How can you live in NYC and call this one of the scariest movies of the past ten years? There's more scares on one of the reality ghost shows on tv. Give me a break.
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