The found footage horror genre is moving far past films. Basic cable wildlife staple, Animal Planet, has joined the fray with their horror mockumentary series “Lost Tapes”, a series dealing almost exclusively with displaced animals and cryptids, presented in the style of lost films recovered (usually) long after the demise of their subjects.
For the uninitiated, a cryptid is a creature whose existence is considered by most in the scientific community to be either extinct or entirely mythological. Whether or not it truly exists is the basis of much conjecture – after all, not everything has to be seen to be believed. Much like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and a bevy of other creatures we all know well, cryptids seem to have a slight amount of tantalizing evidence attached to them that may indeed prove their existence. To that end, an entire field of study sprang up to survey the possibility of these creatures still existing: Cryptozoology.
Animal Planet’s “Lost Tapes” is based heavily in the concept of cryptozoology. Each episode presents a different selection of found footage, each relating to the accidental or purposeful discovery of a cryptid existing somewhere in the wild, and often leading to violence, or even death. From vacationing teenagers to respected scientists, each story puts its human hunters into the path of a creature who, more likely than not, does not want to be discovered. Oftentimes, the footage is all that remains of a fateful expedition, or a vacation gone terribly wrong.
Keeping well in the vein of genre giant “The Blair Witch Project”, much of each episode’s big bad is seen off-screen, with only the hapless victim’s reactions to tell the viewer what is happening around them. Be it an alien, chupacabra, or even the Mothman, viewers won’t catch much of a glimpse – and what is seen is often clearly CGI or, at worst, a guy in a costume. That being said, “Lost Tapes” isn’t entirely worth skipping.
Animal Planet is in the unique position of offering real scientific data and folklore history alongside the so-called ‘lost tapes’, giving a few nuggets of real information alongside the scripting scenes. It is definitely an interesting take on the genre, and a real boon to Animal Planet’s line-up. With subject matter usually relegated to documentaries focused on wild-eyed “experts” spilling out their conspiracy theories, it is refreshing to see a non-SyFy fictional look at legends and lore from around the world. Three seasons have so far been produced, with only the first two year available for streaming on Netflix.
A little silly, but a lot of fun.