Cloverfield (2008) Review

Time: 85 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains fantasy violence.
Cast:
Michael Stahl-David as Robert “Rob” Hawkins
T.J. Miller as Hudson “Hud” Platt
Jessica Lucas as Lily Ford
Odette Yustman as Elizabeth “Beth” McIntyre
Lizzy Caplan as Marlena Diamond
Mike Vogel as Jason Hawkins
Director: Matt Reeves

As a group of New Yorkers (Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman) enjoy a going-away party, little do they know that they will soon face the most terrifying night of their lives. A creature the size of a skyscraper descends upon the city, leaving death and destruction in its wake. Using a handheld video camera, the friends record their struggle to survive as New York crumbles around them.

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Cloverfield did have a big impact upon it’s release, a big part of that was its mysterious marketing, a trend which would continue in the series, to the point where the trailer is being released hours before the film’s actual release (AKA Cloverfield Paradox). Cloverfield is a found footage movie that is quite effective in its execution despite its simple premise. It’s opening 20-30 minutes wasn’t the best but after that, director Matt Reeves delivers a very solid movie.

First I should clarify that I’m judging this movie by itself and not comparing it to the other Cloverfield movies. I will admit, earlier in the movie I really didn’t care about what was going on. It’s just all these characters at a party and I was completely unengaged, I wasn’t interested in the characters at all. Once the destruction start, that’s when my interest really picked up. The film does a good job at keeping you riveted from start to finish from that moment. It occasionally gives you moments to breathe and it doesn’t feel too long or short. You really feel like you’re with these characters as they are going from place to place, trying to survive. It also really benefits from the simplicity, there aren’t tons of scenes filled with exposition about what’s happening, you only really know what you can see. Found footage movies always have the issue of explaining why the main characters keep carrying with them a camera and recording everything even though they shouldn’t even be bothering with it, Cloverfield is no exception. While initially you can understand why the camera is there, over time it just seems increasingly pointless and you wonder why our main characters would bother carrying this camera around with them (though that goes for most found footage horror movies). Outside of that, after the first 20-30 minutes Cloverfield is pretty good for what it is.

The characters weren’t all that great or interesting but the cast did a good job playing them, with a cast that includes Michael Tahl-David, T.J. Miller, Jessica Lucas, Odette Yustman and Lizzy Caplan. Found footage movie characters aren’t really all that great, but the ones in Cloverfield ended up being on the better end of the spectrum.

This is a found footage movie, and as its being inside a lot of destructive events, there is a lot of shakiness. If you are easily dizzy, you’ll probably find Cloverfield to be hard to watch. The illogical reasoning for the main characters keeping recording with a camera aside, it is very effective at being very tense and scary to a degree. As I said earlier, Cloverfield is effective at making you feel like you are one of the people witnessing the carnage and destruction. It’s no real secret nowadays that a source of the destruction is a giant monster but you don’t see too much of it and it is used effectively. It’s probably underwhelming if you just watched all the trailers because with all the build up it just turns out to be a monster, but otherwise it’s fine. Matt Reeves did a really solid job at directing this movie, delivering on creating one of the more effect found footage movies.

Cloverfield is a very solid found footage movie that is very effective as a thriller. The first 20-30 minutes were quite iffy and didn’t have much of my interest but after that, it really picks up and becomes a really good found footage thriller. If you like thrillers and don’t mind dizzy found footage movies, I’d say definitely check it out if you haven’t seen it already.

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