Godzilla meets the Queasy-Cam to produce “Cloverfield,” a “Monster Destroys New York City” recipe crossed with “The Blair Witch Project.”
Produced by J.J. Abrams and directed by Matt Reeves, “Cloverfield” lives up to its hype by creating an American monster and making the film scary and thrilling. Regardless of the lack of major film actors in the cast, “Cloverfield” is still and engaging film.
The film focuses on Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David), who is leaving for Japan for a promotion. The day before he leaves, his friends throw him a surprise party to celebrate his promotion. Rob’s best friend, Hud (Miller) is the camera-man during the party and the monster attack. During the party, he goes around filming “I’m Going To Miss Rob, He’s A Great Guy” quotes from people, including Rob’s brother Jason, Jason’s girlfriend Lily and Hud’s crush Marlena. Unluckily for all of them, the building starts to shake, lights start to flicker and panic strikes the party as everyone goes up to see what hell is breaking loose.
The initial stages of destruction occur at a distance, but as the film progresses, events start to heat up as the head of the Statue of Liberty crashes down on the street. Buildings also crumble and kick up enough dirt and debris that you cannot make out what’s two feet in front of them and one skyscraper is leaning on another. The action gets even better when Rob and his friends are down in the subway tunnels and are attacked by the monster’s little minions leaving the group half bloody, including the camera.
The leaning skyscraper contains Beth, Rob’s lover, whom Rob and the group decide to undertake a journey (walking across Manhattan while a monster stomps half of it to the ground) to rescue. The film’s plot is moved through Rob’s drive to rescue Beth, but what only matters is the events that happen to him and the group while he gets there. The monster’s little minions get up close and personal in the subway tunnel with the group and one member even explodes from the inside (fried guts, anyone?).
During the entire movie there was an intense air of anticipation that the monster would jump out and eat someone.
When the monster is actually seen, it makes audiences sit on the edge of their seats to get a closer look. Whenever the camera moves away, no one can wait to see it again (Yes, it’s that cool). For those that try to cheat the system by Youtubing the monster, the monster isn’t a giant Pillsbury Dough Boy or crab people.
The film is shot from a hand-held camera, giving it a nauseous feeling similar to that of a rollercoaster or a trip to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The hand-held camera adds to the chaotic mood of New York City during the monster attack. The jerky movements of the camera allow the audience to feel like they are part of the action.
Not everyone is suited for this film because those prone to motion sickness will instantly hate it. For those who want to be safe, sit in the back of the theater or as far as you can from the screen.
Overall, “Cloverfield” is worth the time and money if you can handle a bit of visual shakiness and are looking for a quick thriller/horror film to catch with your buddies. The film has many memorable special effect sequences that leave you in awe. If you know that you can survive a ride to Santa Cruz without vomiting, then go see this movie.
Here are some quick tips: Keep your eyes peeled in the last scene and stay after the credits.