Funny story while watching Cloverfield. I was lining up on the turnstile to get my ticket for the movie and out of boredom I tried to listen in on the conversations that were happening at the ticket booth. In one of the ticket booths an old man approached the ticket lady and asked to transfer to another movie. He said that he was afraid that he would throw up while watching Cloverfield and he didn’t go there to puke. But then the more surprising thing happened while I got nearer the ticket booth. After they find out that a person wants to buy a ticket for Cloverfield they would go on this almost rehearsed schtick “You want to watch Cloverfield? We have to warn you that there are scenes that will make you very dizzy.” This is the first time I’ve heard a verbal warning given to a person before buying a ticket.
So did Cloverfield lived up to its hype? Yes and no.
Cloverfield was one of the most hyped up movies of 2007. It was a triumph in viral marketing and JJ Abrams’ promise of bringing a true American monster movie to American popular culture was commendable. But then people also forgot that this is JJ Abrams, who loves to redefine established concepts. The fact that this was going to be a ”shaky cam” movie excited some people and was also dreaded by some.
I think anyone who has been reading stuff on the internet would have known the basic premise of the movie by now. But for those who have not, it is quite simple. Some kind of monster invades
The most obvious comparisons people have made with Cloverfield is The Blairwitch Project, which was one of the first to really challenge people’s vertigo. That movie was also told cinema verite – style with the jittery, vomit inducing camera movements that have become its trademark. And just like the Blairwitch Project, the emotional element here is just in your face. The terror that both movies elicit are two very different animals though, which is really quite interesting. While Blairwitch is this inevitable and spiraling descent into paranoia, helplessness and creeping horror, Cloverfield is all about being thrust into a totally horrific situation without any preparation or clue. Parallelisms have been made with 9-11 and although some people think that it is stretching it. I think that the parallelisms are quite effective. The initial attack of the monster and the shellshocked appearance of the people all around the street mirrors what we have all seen in CNN and other news channels on that fateful day.
Matt Reeves, who directed the movie, really did deliver the goods. His objective to really thrust the audience into the very heart of what the characters are feeling is quite effective. By using the “home movie” device, you feel how naked the characters are as they react to what they experience during the onslaught of the monster. You may not feel empathy for the characters because they are not fleshed out but you do react to what they are seeing and experiencing – you become a part of their journey through the streets of New York, which has turned into a war zone and disaster area. At the back of your mind, you start thinking “would I also react the same way, faced with the same events?”
The monster is really there as a plot device that goads the characters and force them to act and react to the situation thrust upon them. The monster is not the star of this movie, it’s the characters. I really don’t see why a lot of people are complaining that they never got to see the monster, when it was shown so many times in the movie. Is it too hard to accept that this is not a Godzilla movie?
Cloverfield has taken the monster movie genre and turned it on its ear by giving it a post modern reinterpretation. It may have failed in certain areas but it is still a worthy cinematic experience.
Grade: B –