Written By: Drew Goddard
Directed By: Matt Reeves
Starring: Michael Stahl-Davis, Lizzy Caplan, T.J. Miller
My rating: 8/10
Cloverfield is, as everyone has already assumed, The Blair Witch Project in the city. Pretty accurate description. However, the nature of the film, the amount of special effects necessary and the constant action means that it is one of the most technically accomplished films I've ever had the pleasure of watching.
The film follows a bunch of twenty-something, yuppie, beautiful people from a farewell party in a trendy Manhattan loft, through the madness of NYC under attack from a monster and finally to a wonderful final sequence in Central Park.
Sickeningly shaky camerawork aside, this film is incredibly enjoyable and serves both as a relentless thrill-ride and as a brainy "what if..." that realistically considers a monster attack from the perspective of the people on the ground, as opposed to the usual military/journalist/president, etc. This experiment in realism worked so well because the filmmakers took such care in creating the illusion. It would take only one bad actor, or one dodgy special effect to blow the entire feeling of realism. Luckily, this never happens. The special effects are cleverly obscured by smoke and debris which both heightens the curiosity about the monster and also masks any dodgy CGI that might otherwise have stained the film.
The design of the camera movement is also extraordinarily clever in it's deliberately accidental catching of the tail end of the monster and other important events. The camerawork never feels set up and much to the irritation of the audience it often misses important things and teases us by coming in too late, etc. The effect of all this realism is quite harrowing and there are plenty of proper jumps and scares to ensure that everyone feels suitably terrorised.
This film probably would have gotten five big shiny stars if it weren't for the fact that the characters are so annoying and the dialogue got very hammy in parts. The love story arc that forms the plot gets bumped up to far too high a priority for my liking and as the film progresses, it becomes more and more the focus of everything. This is a shame because the fact that is starts to feel like a soap opera takes away from the adventure slightly. However, kudos must go to the filmmakers for bravely killing off so many characters throughout, unexpectedly and tragically.
Overall, this film is at least enjoyable and at best revolutionary. If you have a problem with seasickness then be warned, this is shakier than The Blair Witch Project and more action-packed. Otherwise, I highly recommend it and at 85 minutes, it certainly won't be a waste of your time.
- Charlene Lydon 21/01/2008