Cloverfield (2008)
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Review Date: April 15, 2008
Director: Matt Reeves
Writer: Drew Goddard
Producers: JJ Abrams, Bryan Burk
Michael Stahl-David as Rob
Jessica Lucas as Lily
Lizzy Caplan as Marlena
Part of the secret behind this film’s success was in its ability to keep almost everything about its plotline as covert as can be, so suffice it to say that the film starts off at a party, following the minute details of a couple of “friends” who apparently had sex for the first time, but are now all “awkward” about it, until a major quake shuts all the lights in the city, and the next thing you know…is that a fuckin’ monster knocking the shit out of New York’s skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty!?! Find out inside…Cloverfield.
You can’t discuss this film without, at least, mentioning its conspicuously secretive marketing campaign, which began with an untitled teaser trailer that ran before TRANSFORMERS last summer and had everyone yapping all the way through to a variety of related websites (?) and online gossiping about what the fuck the movie was all about. All of those clandestine moves turned out to be the perfect entrée for this unique little monster movie that manages to play up a creative “one person” point of view throughout the entire picture, while at the same time, developing a pretty fun storyline about a creature of unknown origins kicking the shit out of midtown Manhattan. Kudos to everyone involved with this film from those very creative marketing folks, all the way through to uber-producer JJ Abrams, who seems to have the pulse on what makes audiences sit up and take notice these days, and director Matt Reeves, who does an excellent job of pacing the film justly, generating a ton of suspense and thrills – despite the film’s obviously limited budget – and most importantly, entertaining the shit out of me! It’s not every day that I will give something out of Hollywood a big thumb up for originality (especially during this horrible funk of remakes/rehashes that Tinseltown has been churning out for the past few years), but CLOVERFIELD deserves that credit for, at the very least, going out on a limb and trying to do something cool and different, with a standard “monster movie” concept.

Granted, the film’s “first person” point-of-view was made just about as famous in 1999 when a couple of friends with cameras and $22,000 burning a hole in their pockets decided to make a “real horror movie” called THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, but unlike that film (which I thought pretty much sucked), this one actually managed to make me care about its subjects, appreciate its story and predicaments, and totally sell me on everything, including its many crazy-ass STARSHIP TROOPERS-esque creatures trying to chomp into our veritable heroes. Also, for a film that only runs 75 minutes, kudos to the screenwriter for managing to pace all three acts very nicely, especially after the film’s first 20 minutes, which seemed like any other film’s first 20 minutes featuring a party full of kids drinking and going through some personal shit until…well, until their world literally begins to shake and the rest, as they say…is a pretty darn cool flick! I was actually just starting to recognize how irrelevant their squabbles were during the party, when all hell broke loose, and all of a sudden…these people were my life!! I also thought that the story was gonna go downhill once the monster hit the big screen, but wrong was I, with scenes featuring gunplay, giant spiders attacking kids in tunnels, a suspenseful cross-over two buildings and plenty of frenetic style, all doing their part to keep my eyes glued to that very screen and my ass, bolted to the chair. The flashbacks also helped ground the story a little, while at the same time, giving us a few seconds to breathe and catch up.

Props also go out to all of the lead actors, who offered convincing performances and had a big part to do with me staying “into” the movie. I would also like to request that actress Jessica Lucas drop me an email, as I find her to be quite attractive and would like to “gett wit dat”, if you know what I mean. But I digress. All compliments aside, I’m not sure if this film is for everyone, since it does feature a ton of shaky-cam action which may cause motion sickness in some viewers (my “lady friend” thought it was the worst film she’s ever seen, in fact), but for me, it all worked great and even though some sequences may require that you unroll your eyes in order to better enjoy yourself, I did so and had myself a blast! So if you’re looking for a quick, clever, scary little thrill-ride set in New York City, check into this film and see what it’s like to go into a movie without knowing much about it. Let me tell you, it can be a fun, fun time. PS: Needless to say, some of the mayhem-filled shots of folks scattering through the smoke-filled streets of NY will remind some of the tragic day that was September 11, 2001. I must’ve sat in front of my TV set for about four days straight after that happened, and even though it happened almost 7 years ago, some sequences in this film reminded me of that day. Had to be mentioned.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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