Feb 1, 2008
The thing that makes Cloverfield unique is the same thing that made Spielberg's War of the Worlds unique (which makes them no longer unique...whatever...): The story is told from the point of view of ordinary people who found themselves caught in extraordinary events. And like ordinary people, you wouldn't know what is happening until much later. It is this kind of anxiety and fear of being in the dark about the all this shit going on around you that makes the film immersive and captivating.
In a nutshell, the film was purportedly extracted from a video camera found in a place "formerly known as central park". It documents the story of 4 young adults who found themselves in the middle of a battle between Manhattan and a giant monster. The premise is like Godzilla, except your experiencing it through the eyes (or camera lens) of this 4 individuals who are on the run for their lives. You don't know what's going on, you don't have the big picture. You see what they see.
Despite my misgivings, I have to admit they somehow pulled it off; Particularly in the opening scenes with all the destruction going around, all you see are buildings toppling over and a weird roaring sound before being surrounded by smoke and dust. Then one of characters who saw the monster, apparently traumatized, tells you "It was eating people.". It was the filmmakers' goal to create the kind of horror like 9/11, and they did it. The monster was not just a monster, it was also an event.
The movie is not perfect, it offered no explanation how the camera managed to record for 7 hours straight on a single battery charge. Also, if you have not vomitted lately, go and watch this film; The shaky camera work will probably bring you to the brink of hurling chunks in the middle of the cinema.
All in all, I thought it was a decent film. It has achieved what the filmmakers has set to
do: to convey the terror experienced by ordinary people like us in the face of catastrophic disasters, death and loss of hope. Just don't watch it after a meal.