"Cloverfield" is like a bad dream. Not your own bad dream, because there isn't the moment when you realize that there's a snake right in front of you, and when you step away, there's a snake there, and then another, and another, and as you look around you see that are hundreds of snakes covering everything*... but like watching someone else's bad dream. For one thing, the monster is impossible. If obeying the rules of biology and physics were required, no creature could be simultaneously so huge, gangly, agile and impervious to high-explosive ordinance. Dream monsters have no such limitations. The beast also has that eerie "always chasing you" behavior, where no matter where you run or hide, it's closing in on YOU. This started to bother me as I watched, but I reminded myself that it was just a dream, and that helped.
The premise is that this movie is footage recovered from video camera which has been found in the aftermath of a monster attack. The "found footage" device is not a new conceit, but here it seemed far less annoying than in "Blair Witch Project." I'll admit that I skimmed over the first 18½ minutes of party scenes once the basic story elements were established. Then we get to the good bit, which addresses the question "What would be the experience of a group of ordinary people during a giant monster attack on Manhattan?" The movie conveyed the sense of fear, confusion and helplessness quite effectively. Those viewers who are particularly sensitive to motion sickness may be put off by the constant hand-held jiggling of the camera. I'm generally not a fan of "Monster jumping out from the dark" horror movies, but this one held my attention. Points lost for the characters dropping weapons when they know they're being chased, but overall, the movie captured the feel of the situation; like Cinéma vérité made possible by a truckload of digital effects. And unlike a bad dream, if you're not enjoying it, you can turn off the TV and go do something else that doesn't involve snakes.
* Yes, I have dreams like this. Thank you for not offering interpretations of what that means.
If you liked the movies below, you'll probably like this one (and vice versa):
Eight-Facet Info Rating, rated on a scale of 0 (None) to 4 (Lots!)):
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© 2008 Evan M. Nichols