Cloverfield (2008) review
With the sequel coming out within a few weeks, it seemed a good a time as ever to review the original Cloverfield that came out those many moons ago in 2008.
Cloverfield begins by showing the viewer that the footage they are about to view is highly sensitive and is the property of the U.S government. It’s code-named Cloverfield and refers to multiple sightings for the case designate. The footage is also found at what is referenced as an ‘incident site US-447, AKA Central Park’. I think this is a great addition to a film of this genre as it adds depth and intrigue into what this incident could have been. It also tells us that what we are about to watch is a past event, in which we will find out in the journey of the story why it is in fact found footage.
Its a simple story really – a big monster attacks a city so a guy, and his friends, sets off to get his girl and get out of town with casualties along the way.
We are introduced into the camera that produced this found footage and we meet our main guy Rob , his secret love Beth who throughout the film we get little shots of them enjoying a day together before this scenario. Whats then carries on with a party with Hud filming party guests for Robs big job opportunity move Japan, in which we get to have a peek into the other relationships of the characters.
The story takes a while to find traction which can be seen as both pro and con. Pro because we start to get used to the scenario so when the events unfold, it not only takes the characters by surprise but it also takes you by surprise. They use the good old trick of making you feel safe within the film and then throw you into chaos. Con as many people could grow bored and even skip forward, missing vital information and ruining the atmosphere of the film. Eighteen minutes into the film is when things start to heat up, maybe too long to wait for some. But after it’s grand entrance, the pace starts to pick up more and continues so throughout the rest of the film.
The found footage style of the film seems genuine also. You get the sense that not only is it really being filmed in the guys hand, but also they way its positioned at certain points in the film, dropped down when serious conversations are being had, moved around wildly when running – it feels authentic. In fact it makes it that much more terror inducing due to the disorientation of the camerawork, only glimpsing the monster when Hud’s view shakes in it’s direction. Not all films can achieve such an effect with as great a success. There are also segments in the film in which the camera cuts out, holding the tension in those brief black flickers. With the statue of liberty’s head forcibly removed, the survivors start to realise that this may be more than what the now quiet news feeds are reporting, after seeing something and noting how it seems ‘alive’.
Matt Reeves, who is clued up the idea that primal fear sets in when we are not given a reason for an attack, makes sure that not only do we ever really see the monster in question but we don’t know why its here either. Films who have used this story style before usually use it in a way so the aggressors are there to educate, invade or harvest. In Cloverfield, it’s suddenly there and its only objective is to scare. We find out very little in the way of how the battle is going with only one soldier noting that “it’s winning”.
After many deaths, along with a helicopter crash, we are left with only Rob, Hud and Beth when an announcement alerts anyone left alive that the Hammer Down protocol will begin in fifteen minutes. We finally see the most of the creature as it kills Hud, the character that I personally thought had the most about him – along with Marlena, and we are left with possibly the most boring out of the bunch still alive. Rob gives us a run down of the events – unnecessary really when we have just witnessed it all and the camera finally cuts when what looks like a bomb hits the pair, killing them.
The ending to me is a little unsatisfying but I also think that its made to feel that way. Its a disaster movie, it’s not meant to gratify or save your favourites, it’s meant to make you feel the emotions the characters feel. With such and empty ending, if its not intentional then they could have fooled me.