Cloverfield (2008)

A gimmick used well.

A going-away party in Manhattan is interrupted when a mysterious monster of epic proportions launches an attack on New York City. With camcorder in hand, a small group of friends make their way out into the chaotic streets, scrambling to stay alive.

Producer J.J. Abrams probably saw Godzilla way back in the day and thought it was awesome, and then saw The Blair Witch Project in 1998 and thought that was awesome too. Never would I have imagined, such a combination of two.

People will complain about the gimmicky camera use and how it made people sick and throw-up, but for me I really did like this element. I felt like I was there through all of the mayhem, and what this film does so well with the camera use, is how it doesn’t show us everything that’s going on and doesn’t spoil too much for us so it keeps the juices flowing in our system.

Director Matt Reeves also does a great job of creating this claustrophobic atmosphere of where we feel trapped in the city but it also brings out some of the best scares in any horror film. The film focuses more on what’s going on off-screen, rather than on it and I thought that was what scared me the most. You’ll probably get a lot of jump scares out of this, but with no score music at all, you never know just when their going to happen.

My main problem with this film is that the script, and yes there is a script, just feels so fake and dumb. With a lot of  “found footage” films, the one thing that always does it for me is how realistic the acting and what they say is. Here, it doesn’t feel all that realistic. The script is terrible, and you can already tell from the first 20 minutes that this is just going to be corny line, after corny line and it totally just annoyed me at how these people would talk.

Without giving too much away in this film, they decide to go back for someone, and it was a completely stupid idea because they go right to the middle of Center City, where all of the havoc is. If that was me, I would be out of that city right away and no turning back. The acting is also pretty bad too but then again, I guess you have to realize that this film is all about the spectacle and less about the actual story and characters that inhabit it. I also noticed that a lot of these people are way too good looking for this material. This may sound like a dumb complaint, but you can’t tell me that any of these people actually look like you or me. Especially Odette Yustman. Now that is what I call sexy.

Consensus: Though it has problems with it’s script and the dumb things that usually are done by all characters in every single horror film, Cloverfield is well-filmed, scary, and at-times, clever gimmick. However, it’s a gimmick that works and makes you feel like you’re on a roller-coaster, including the nauseating side-effects.



  1. I was not a fan of this one. There was not much of a story, I didn’t care about the characters and the monster didn’t really inspire awe. Plus I had to keep looking away from the screen to keep from getting motion sick. Then again “found footage” films never really interest me.

    • If you don’t like these kind of films then this one won’t really be anything special either. It just depends on how much fun you are really willing to have in the end I guess.

  2. you do have to suspend your disbelief that the guy would continue to run around with the camcorder on while a godzilla-esque creature was destroying the city. Having said that, I found this to be a very fun monster flick. They even managed to make the monster menacing when they were underground with the little creepy bug things. Looking forward to more from Matt Reeves. See “Let Me In” if you have not already.

  3. I agree it’s a clever gimmick, but I did get dizzy after an hour or so and wanted to throw up (yes, I’m a wimp) :/

    I’m kinda iffy on the anticlimactic ending… I was expecting a gigantic battle between the army and the monster but whatever.

  4. I really liked this. The shaky camera is a bit overkill but it does a great job of creating this really oppressive atmosphere of being “there”. I think this movie was a lot “scarier” than the vast majority of horror movies being made the past few years.

    • I don’t blame ya man for thinking that and if it weren’t for the dumb romantic angle, this would have easily been better than just a rental. But once again, shitty romantic stories suck away the fun after all.

  5. “A Gimmick Used Well” could have been the entire review.

    Perfectly put in four words.

    I dont blame you for writing the whole thing out, of course, but when I read that first sentence my thought was – you can just stop there and you’ve done a perfect job. LOL

    • I agree. Some people can’t handle the camerawork, but the same is said for 3D or, for that matter, IMAX theaters with AWESOME surround sound. It’s a preference of what you can handle out of the movie experience. This gives you something different and it works.

      Something you didn’t mention, I think, is the **semi-spoiler** alien. I’ve always thought the alien was pretty awesome. At the same time, I think the alien in Super 8 is even more awesome. JJ Abrams… say what you want about his style of storytelling, you can’t doubt his creativity when it comes to imagining aliens and monsters (black smoke from LOST).

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