The Horror of Video Cam Movies

The newest trend in monster movies is where the handheld video camera (or, “cam”) plays a larger role than the no-name stars or even the monsters. Two recent movies, “Cloverfield” and “George A. Romero’s Diary of The Dead,” illustrate this trend. Home amateurs, college students at film schools, and professional filmmakers will imitate both movies, looking to ride the newest trend. The horror comes not from the current movies but from the new movies that will appear in the future to exploit this troubling trend.


“Cloverfield” is a retelling of the classic monster-trashing-the-big-city formula from the perspective of a single video cam that recorded a dating relationship getting hot from a month earlier before it gets recorded over during a going away party where the dating relationship has gone cold. If the sound system at the theater wasn’t set to extra loud, I might have snooze through this soap opera. No one cared about the poor smuck getting ditched and then rescuing the girl who ditched him. When the monster and baby monsters are finally shown, we don’t see them for long. This movie is about the horrors of lost love, not a monster destroying a city.

The highlights includes the head of the Statue of Liberty rolling down the street like a bowling ball, where the harden citizens of New York City whipped out their cellphone to take pictures; a collapsed building that sends a 9/11-inspired wall of dust down the concrete canyons; and a subway station being shaken by the monster fighting the military on the streets above.  Since only one video cam recorded everything, the ending lacks the context to tie the story into the real world and the viewers are left struggling to find meaning in what they saw. If that wasn’t bad enough, an excellent sound track played during the credits was the best part of this movie.


“George A. Romero’s Diary of The Dead” will become a cult classic for flawlessly executing the making of an internet movie called “The Death of Death” that documents the zombie outbreak as recorded by a group of film making students with two video cams, and edited to include video from other video cams, wireless surveillance cameras, cell phone cameras, and stuff downloaded the from the Internet to provide a larger context to the real world (i.e., some of the video was stock footage taken during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans).

The highlights includes an actress questioning the conventional horror movie formula of a scream queen running in her high heels in the middle of nowhere to have the monster grab her nightgown and show off her breasts (which does happen to her later on when the cameraman forgets he’s making a documentary); exploding eyeballs when a pair of defibrillator paddles gets applied to a zombie’s head in a hospital; and an old Amish man who commits suicide by ramming his scythe into his head and the head of the zombie behind him. Romero is holding a contest for the best three-minute short video to win an appearance on the DVD release.

And the horror begins.