Viral marketing is a funny thing. You see, the thing is that the whole concept can actually hurt or help your film. If your movie is great, the campaign works. If your movie is a hunk of shit, people wonder why the hell you even tried. Cloverfield was a movie that I was on the fence about. I had seen the no-named teaser in front of Transformers and thought, like the rest of the audience, “What in the fuck is Abrams doing?!” I had speculated with the rest of the basement-dwelling masses about whether this was a Voltron movie or just a really shitty story about a Lovecraftian creature attacking New York. I had also grown weary of the constant secrecy and goofy market tactics, which Abrams now, due to his extreme distain for giving shit away, is known for. Still, I wondered what the fuck Abrams, director Matt Reeves, and writer Drew Goddard were up to. Now I know…they were changing movies as we know them.
Cloverfield is more of an experience than a film. It is something that just screams to be seen in theaters. The entire concept (found footage and giant monster attacks a city), though tired and tried, is given a tense and emotional reboot by Reeves and Goddard. Drew Goddard is a name you need to get used to hearing, based on this script; I would not be surprised if he becomes Hollywood’s new, hot writer. Big props also to Reeves, his taut visual style and Spielberg-like (that’s right, I said it) slow reveals just might have written his ticket to the big projects. Also, another crew shout out to creature designer, Neville Page, for creating something that really no one has even seen before. It truly is something that is equal parts terrifying and unnamable.
The story, though slow starting, packs a real weight. It is a simple point A to point B thing, but the way in which the characters interact and think is what makes to buy into the concept of this being an actual event that has occurred. Rob is heading away to Japan for a new job, his brother and his brother’s fiancée are throwing him a party, and his best friend, Hud, had been put in charge of filming testimonials of the people at the party. Halfway through the party, Rob’s long unrequited love, Beth, shows up in the arms of another man. They fight. She leaves…then its monster time. This initial sequence plays like a Nine Eleven-esque, firsthand account of what is going down. Explosions are happening, debris is falling, people are screaming and running down stairs, and, most importantly, no one knows what in the ever loving fuck is going on. One extra is even heard saying, “It’s another attack!”…the entire movie plays on the fear that gripped us that day, though instead of terrorists, it’s a big fuckin’ thing. They turn on the news to find that they know just about as much as they do. A roar pierces the commotion and something tears its way down the street, eating and wrecking everything in its path. Panic sets in as the evacuation starts, but Rob gets a garbled call on his cell phone. Beth is hurt, she is bleeding, and she can’t move. Rob decides to go back into the heart of the city, ground zero of the monster’s wake, and rescue her. Friends in tow, he starts to make his way into Midtown and this is where the movie starts to take leaps and bounds. The rest of the ninety minutes play like an intense documentary. Characters die and something happens that hasn’t happened to me in a long time of movie going…I care. These people are real to me and that is the real beauty of Cloverfield, it puts a human face on an extraordinary situation and makes it very visceral.
My only real gripe about the movie and it’s really only because I am such a geek for this sort of thing, is the lack of explanation of the monster. I know there is, most likely, a shit load of clues hidden throughout the movie (which I am told there is) that explains it, but I am kinda lazy and I like to know where shit comes from. Also, the start before the first attack drags a bit and some cutting could have tightened that up. Aside from those minor things, Cloverfield is the kind of movie that comes around every once and awhile that completely changes a genre and a highly, HIGHLY recommend that you partake in this.
Trying not to go that way, because there is horrific shit that way,
-J.Partridge, The Enemy.