A Bad Robot Production
I’m pretty sure that sometime last year I saw a trailer for Cloverfield at the cinema. It gave nothing away, and was not seen again until the beginning of January. Immediately I wanted to know what it was, what was going on and why I wasn’t aware of it. That was part of the charm of Cloverfield, unless you were a complete buff on your film message boards everyday looking for the vital spoilers, it was kept totally hush hush. Eventually anticipation and tension win, I crack and look online at everything and anything that might reveal something about the film. I see a trailer or two on youtube, find some Cloverfield blogs for the die-hard geeks, and a couple of faux-spoilers to throw everyone off the scent. Anyway, it FINALLY comes out, and low and behold it’s a monster film, filmed through the eyes of some wealthy attractive, young Americans.
The whole film is depicted through the handheld camerawork of the “humourous” Hud, which gives the amalgamation of “The Blair Witch Project” and “Godzilla”, however unlike these two films, there is no narration and no Hollywood musical soundtrack. The cast is small, and the film basically is told through the eyes of 4 or 5 people. Rob, Lily, Hud, Jason, Beth and Marlena. Rob had a one-night stand with Beth, and has avoided her since then, causing awkwardness at the party. However as soon as she leaves the party, (Rob is leaving for Japan and is thrown a leaving party by Beth, Jason’s Girlfriend (Jason is Robs brother), which is going on when the monster strikes) Rob realises that he loves her, and spends the whole film tirelessly searching Manhattan, looking for her. So in that sense, the film is sort of a love story, with more blood, sweat and tears.
It generally seems like the director J.J. Abrams (Lost) is paying homage to the brilliant but somewhat cheesy history of classic Japanese horror. It’s not as good as Host, but East Asia seems to have a fairly strong hold on monster films, and no one has yet to match the calibre of the originals. However, the consistent wobble of the camera, the quick pace, and the well-unseen beast (with its chilling growl) all keeps the viewer guessing. You never see too much, and I didn’t feel like constant special effects, explosions and Hollywood showstoppers were battering me into the ground. By not constantly putting the monster in the frame, we become more anxious and jumpy, the build up to the final few scenes is well worth the wait.
With quick pulses of a fairly touching back story between the characters, spliced into the rampant rampage of a monster attack, we’re given a convincing story and a clever narrative that works. Cloverfield seems like it was made to be viewed on camera phones and laptops, so I don’t think you’d lose anything by seeing it at the cinema, but if you see any film at the cinema its got to be a monster chase, where the sound and visuals are what makes it from good to great.