Director: Matt Reeves
Cast: Michael Stahl-David, Jessica Lucas, Lizzy Caplan, T.J. Miller, Odette Yustman, Mike Vogel
There was so much hype surrounding this film after the trailer with no title made its way into US cinemas last year. They said it was like The Blair Witch Project, the cult classic which was filmed using handheld cameras and starred unknown actors. Well, the film does impress, thankfully. Otherwise it would have been a waste of time for us viewers, despite it being only 90 minutes long.
Cloverfield begins as a supposed tape recording owned by the US government about an alien attack in New York City. The footage begins with a man named Rob taping his friend Beth as they spend some time together. It then cuts to a farewell party for Rob organised by his brother Jason and Jason's girlfriend Lily. Rob's best friend Hud is the cameraman who goes around the party attendees getting goodbye messages for Rob. Then Beth shows up at the party, some things don't go smoothly for Rob, Beth leaves with another guy and then bang! Chaos.
Pretty sudden, right? Well, that's how authentic the film attempts to be, by not focusing on plot and just making it run with whatever you see happening. Anyway, an explosion rocks the city, the lights go out, fireballs start raining down on the city, and the head of the Statue Of Liberty comes flying down the street right in front of the party peeps.
People start running and scattering like cockroaches in the kitchen when the lights go on. Screams. Loud sounds. Explosions. Growling and roaring sounds. Rob, Jason, Lily, Hud and Lily's friend Marlena try to get off the island, which is made difficult by the thousands of others trying to do the same thing. Then, another disaster strikes, and things get worse. The group of friends discover that some alien creature the size of Godzilla is attacking the city, and the military can't seem to contain it. The friends then attempt to do the unthinkable by going back to the city to save Beth. And we're watching all of this unfold from Hud's camera's point of view.
Not much of a plot, like I said. But thankfully the film doesn't need it, because it doesn't rely on plot. It relies on realism, which is achieved by using handheld cameras and well executed visual effects. The use of unknown actors also helps, had they used people we know, it would have been a distraction. Director Matt Reeves successfully puts us right in the middle of the destruction and chaos with all these techniques, and you feel every blow, every sound, every emotion. The fear and terror is so real, you'll find yourself at the edge of your seat many times.
If you remember The Blair Witch Project, you'll know what I'm talking about. In that film, the same techniques used gave us the genuine fear of the dark and the unseen. It's quite amazing, I must say. However, the shaky camerawork may get on the nerves of some people who get dizzy watching stuff like this. That, and a couple of cheesy moments in the film will spoil your enjoyment. Cloverfield is definitely a film with an acquired taste. You'll either love it or hate it.
I recommend it for people who want a horror film of a different kind. But a warning: it may not be everyone's cup of tea. (4/5)