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Look out, there's a monster coming

Vinny Lawrenson Woods watches Cloverfield and finds a commotion over a motion picture going through the motions

Published on February 11th 2008.


Look out, there's a monster coming

Everyone loves a good monster flick. So why doesn’t somebody make one?

With J.J. Abrams, of TV’s Lost fame, at the helm, its use of viral marketing, taster trailers and a sequel planned, a lot of hype has been built up around Cloverfield. Filmed entirely on a hand held camera, the film follows six friends and their attempted escape from Manhattan island after New York is attacked.

At least the film was short. This made at least one member of the audience happy. As soon as the final credits appeared, this very vocal contributor added: ‘That was shit’

We first meet the characters at a surprise party for Rob Hawkins (played by Michael Stahl-David). The rest of the gang are Rob’s love interest, Beth McIntyre (Odette Justman), best friend Hudson ‘Hud’ Platt (T.J. Miller), brother Jason Hawkins (Mike Vogel), brother's girlfriend Lily Ford (Jessica Lucas) and friend of a friend Marlena Diamond (Lizzy Caplan). This introduction of the characters and the camcorder were as heavy handed and contrived as the film’s protagonist, which set the tempo for the rest of the film.

The action started with what was thought to be an earthquake, but it quickly became obvious that something else was creating the panic. These first scenes were the film's highpoint, as skyscrapers fell, fireballs rained and we had our first glimpses of the mystery assailant.

You may now be wondering what was creating all the commotion. Like all well kept internet secrets, I’m sure it was no surprise to anyone that a ‘monster’ was causing all the mayhem. When the battered head of the Statue of Liberty crashed into one of New York’s streets there was no doubt trouble was afoot, or perhaps that should be a (big) foot. But why New York is such a popular place for misunderstood monsters I’m not sure.

From its first shudder to the film's final scene, our CGI friend was intent on destroying or eating anything it could, but without the emotion of King Kong or even the cheesiness of Godzilla, Cloverfield made no lasting impression at all.

By the time cameraman Hud had asked ‘Do you think the creature was from the sea, outer space or was it a government experiment gone wrong’, I really didn’t care anymore.

At least the film was short, at 85 minutes it was apparently the exact length of a DV Tape. This made at least one other member of the audience happy too. As soon as the final credits appeared, this very vocal contributor added ‘That was shit’.

This was a film just going through the motions. Even though the camerawork and visuals were good, when mixed with a flawed plot, cardboard characters, and one ridiculous premise after another, you’re left with a film without any tension or emotion. Unlike Blair Witch before it, this camcorder yarn failed to create the horror, uncertainty and fear I would have expected.

6/10 Cloverfield is on general release.

Vinny Lawrenson Woods runs Culturepool, the Liverpool based networking/arts group. Next event is on February 21 when Culturepool meet Vasily Petrenko. See here if you want to go.

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

LyndaFebruary 11th 2008.

Spot on. Was it just me or did the jerky camera movements make u feel like you'd been on a rollercoaster 20 times in a row. I was ill after. I bet a lot of Americans sue them for that.”

AnonymousFebruary 11th 2008.

I went to see this film with someone I was seeing at the time, I made the mistake of letting him pick the film...and also not actually knowing what Cloverfield was actually about - then having the conversation after he bought the tickets that I don't like films where there is a monster running round killing everyone (ie Jeepers Creepers etc) as I think they are very unrealistic. Cloverfield is basically a pointless film. It doesn't even end properly! Totally unbelievable and absolutely ridiculous! If I could of, I would have exited the cinema before the end (or lack of) the film... I personally don't recommend it, HOWEVER boys seem to like it! ”

GraceFebruary 11th 2008.

the film was a complete joke my main regret was paying £6.90 to watch a film which gave me a headache and wasnt a scary as the adverts made it out to be. Also i would like to know what other human being could run as fast as that girl after having a metal bar through her chest!!

AbbsFebruary 11th 2008.

Yup. Made me queasy. I thought I'd had a dosgy prawn at the noodle bar beforehand, but it turned out I wasn't the only one with motion sickness from the camera shake. I'm a wimp and usually avoid horror/thrillers because I scare easily, but I just didn't care about this lot. Good monster, feeble 2D humans. I was glad they all got squished. Bad movie. 6/10? Generous.

TamarFebruary 11th 2008.

Very predictable. Very unrealistic. A good idea but I'm glad I only had to pay student prices.”

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