I am not *that* embarrassed to admit that I was really excited to see J.J. Abram’s movie “Cloverfield” this January and that I had actually had it in my calendar since last July when I saw the teaser trailer before “Transformers”. I even followed the viral marketing scheme – although not as rabidly as others I encountered on the net. I am including a few of the link to the “hidden” websites below if case you want to check them out.
For those of you who don’t care for horror movies or perhaps have just been living in a cave for the past seven months, the premise of the movie Cloverfield is essentially that a giant monster attacks New York and destroys it. For many months, the speculation was that it would be a remake of Godzilla and in fact, the premise was inspired by that famous Japanese monster. But it is not Godzilla.
For the most part, the viral marketing was people trying to figure out what the monster was but, while amusing, it essentially had nothing to do with the movie itself. What the monster is and where it came from is never determined. (Although I have to say that the monster does look pretty cool and the special effects are nicely done) It isn’t really important since the whole point seems to be surviving the monster’s rampage and not asking for its first name.
The movie is completely filmed with a handheld through the eyes of a few friends living in New York the night that the monster attacks. Many people have compared this to the “Blair Witch Project” of the 1990’s. The camera work is really shaky and some people have even said that it made them nauseated or gave them headaches and so viewer beware – you might want to take some Dramamine before you watch if you are prone to motion sickness.
What makes this horror movie unique is that, unlike many other monster movies, the main characters are not privileged in any way. Usually, the characters that we root for in a monster movie have something extraordinary going for them - they are super strong warriors or super smart scientists or military, or ex military. In other words, they have the ability to do or know things that ordinary people don’t. The other type of main characters in monster movies are complete morons – so stupid or mean or disgusting that we don’t mind so much when they get eaten, smooshed, or otherwise terminated by the monster. Basically, regular monster movies have main characters are that very different from us, allowing us to feel very separate from the movie and any horrible things happening in it.
Cloverfield is not like a regular monster movie at all for the very fact that it breaks this rule. The main characters are just like us. They were virtually unknown actors and I think that was done very much on purpose. If Matthew Fox, Lindsay Lohan, or any other known actor had been in these parts, the gritty reality would have been broken. In the viral marketing campaign, they even have MySpace pages where they complain, hook up, break up, lose jobs, go to school and talk about nothing. And in the movie, when the monster attacks, they make a lot of the same moves that you or I might make. They also make some stupid ones, but a majority of the time, I felt like these characters could be my friends or siblings.
They were regular people in a horrible situation and that made the movie intense. Really intense.
In fact, I would have to say that this movie was not only not what I expected, but also probably one of the more intense movies I have watched. It wasn’t particularly gory, or scary, but just very intense. Because of the camera, you feel like you are there and that can be suffocating at times. In fact, when my showing of the movie (midnight on Janaury 18th) ended, one person loudly complained, “Boo!” while the rest of us just sat there kind of numb. Essentially, it wasn’t a feel good movie but it did do what I think its makers wanted. I just wonder if I had known if I would have wanted to watch it.