Quantcast FIRST LOOK: CLOVERFIELD Duel Review


CLOVERFIELD

I like a few things, I do. Monsters, disaster movies, and YouTube.

I'd like a movie that gives me, pretty much, all three of those things in one shot.

Yes, I like “Cloverfield”.
The highly anticipated “Cloverfield” is just what you've heard it is: A monster movie shown in first person through “found footage” shot on a camcorder from someone who was there. Yes, it's scary. For the first in my adult life a monster movie is scary.

It's not the found footage gimmick alone that makes “Cloverfield” scary, although it helps. Just like in other films that have employed this technique (I'm sure there was one about “witches” a few years back). The first 10 minutes are so consist of pre-disaster footage that seems unrelated; A trip to Coney Island, preparations for a going-away party, various dramatics between friends at this party. All this helps to very quickly and effectively establish who the people that we'll be spending the next very harrowing 90 minutes with are.
There's a pretty basic story to follow: A young man, Rob, is about to leave for Japan. While attending his going-away party with friends when a monster attacks New York City. After he gets a phone call from his girlfriend he makes the worst decision of his life and decides to go find her while 3 of his friends tag along. Mistake!
Ordinarily if a monster came along and ruined the party of a bunch of Manhattan hipsters I'd say, “Hooray! Yo, eat the guy wearing the brown leather jacket with the scruffy beard.”, but the four characters who matter are very likable. I was happy to jaunt around the crumbling city with them avoiding the big “What The Hell Is That”.
Oh, and what the hell is that? I don't know, to be honest with you. You do get a few choice shots of the monster, but it'd really hard to get into detail about what it looks like. You'd need to pause the movie. If you really want to know what the monster looks like, you're probably going to have to wait for DVD. Oh, but everything you've seen so-far online. Wrong!
Forget the fan-art. Forget the rumors. It's not a dinosaur, it's not a lion, it's not Cthulu. During one crucial and terrifying scene a character asks, as she gets her first glimpse, “What the hell is that?”, and our cameraman, Hud, quickly responds “That's something terrible.” It's a humorous moment but the best description. You don't need to know much more than that for “Cloverfield” to be as scary as it is.
It's scary because it's so well-directed and designed that they don't have to show you much more than a glimpse of the monster, a brief shot of an explosion for to keep working. In one scene our friends have to enter a high-rise building that's half-destroyed, and literally, leaning on another high-rise. All you get as a point of reference is one far-away establishing shot of the towering, destroyed 40 story structure. It's so good that you don't need much more than that to understand and go along with the terror of climbing into a skyscraper that's obviously near collapse. Anything more would be overkill.
And it's scary because it takes that giant, special effects laden monster movie genre and strips it down to it's most basic elements. It's “Godzilla” by way of Robert Altman. In this movie you essentially get to play the part of the poor extra running down the street screaming. You're not in the war room with the military, you're not 100 miles away watching the president on TV give a speech, and you're not hanging out in the F-16 with Will Smith. You're right in the middle of ground zero, running for your life from something you don't understand.


Our main characters, no matter how much we like them, they're not heroes. There's no one left to save the day here. It's four scared people, who've made a really bad choice, fighting to find their friend, and survive. Essentially, pretty much what you'd be doing, and you know how well you'd handle that, right? Scary, isn't it? –Mike C.


CLOVERFIELD

What is CLOVERFIELD?

To put it bluntly, CLOVERFIELD is F**KING AWESOME!

I’m going to try my best to make this brief and avoid spoilers, because quite frankly knowing anything about this movie is only going to take away from your full enjoyment of it. And after the countless number of crapfests that have been force-fed to us these past few years, you really do deserve to enjoy a great horror movie in theaters. This is one in particular that definitely deserves all the early hype and praise it’s been getting, because get this… it’s a horror movie, and it’s actually scary.

By now you know the basic gist of the story. Rob Hawkins is about to move to Japan to take a job as a vice president for his company, and his friends decide to throw him a surprise going-away bash. His best friend Hud is stuck with his camcorder the whole night and assigned to document the event and get testimonials from all of Rob’s friends. Mid-way through the party, something starts attacking the city, and for a good solid 30 minutes, we’re thrust into the middle of one of the most intense movies I’ve ever seen. (Don't worry, you barely get down-time after the initial attack.)
While the camcorder trick has been done in movies before, it’s the direction of Matt Reeves and his general understanding of what works best in a horror movie that makes him stand out as a great filmmaker. After this, I seriously look forward to anything he does in the future. Yes, there is a giant monster in this movie, and they don’t cheap out by not showing it. You DO get to see it. But when you do, it’s sporadic and brief. It feels like you never get a good enough look at it, although technically you do. It’s indescribable because it almost looks different every time we get to see it.
The best I can do to explain it is to compare it to the first time I saw the original ALIEN as a little kid. When the ALIEN appeared in Ridley Scott’s landmark movie, I couldn’t help but stare at it and wonder, “What the hell IS that? What is it I’m looking at?” That’s exactly how I felt when trying to process what I was seeing with CLOVERFIELD’s creature. And being in the middle of all the mayhem as it unfolds in the New York City streets only add to the film’s ever-growing intensity.
While there’s a couple of scenes where you’ll get a scare from things you see on screen, for me it was all about the execution of certain scenes that made them scary. For example, there’s a scene where one character has a long metal rod protruding from her shoulder, and our 3 main characters have to pull her off of it. Hud puts down the camera to help and all we get is a view of her feet as we hear her pleading for help. Now, we don’t see anything, but her cries and screams, coupled with the sound effect of them pulling her up and off the rod made me cringe more then any other moment in the film. THAT’S good filmmaking when you can execute a scary moment without showing anything.
Even other subtle things, like when our core group is walking the subway tunnels underground and suddenly notice hundreds of rats running in the opposite direction, because they’re running away from something. Chills just thinking about it.

The only thing I can forsee being a complaint amongst movie goers is a similar complaint people had when they first saw BLAIR WITCH. Expect motion sickness, as the camera does shake an awful lot. It never bothered me or deterred my enjoyment of the movie, but I know some people probably will have issue with this.


With that in mind, just go see CLOVERFIELD as soon as you possibly can. Before anyone can spoil anything about it for you. Because when was the last time a movie has been able to keep this much a secret from you? In fact, you already know too much from reading this. Go in fresh. Let go. Enjoy yourself. You’re in for one hell of a ride. –Robg.



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