Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cloverfield ***


Director: Matt Reeves
Cast: Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, T.J Miller, Odette Yustman, Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas
"Cloverfield" started as a well marketed project, taking cue from suspense masters like Hitchcock and Spielberg in "Jaws". The way its destruction was caused by something we couldn't see, sparked a morbid interest to find out what the monster was like.
But once the curiosity was satisfied, it would seem appropriate that along with a huge sigh of disappointment (which most horror movies cause nowadays), underneath it all there would also be a bad movie which had been trying to cover up its flaws with good advertising.
Turns out, it's nothing like that at all.
Taking cue from "The Blair Witch Project", the film uses handheld camera footage which was found after an incident that distroyed New York City.
That nobody had used this technique in mainstream cinema as effectively as this, results surprising in this day and age.
The footage was taken by Hud (Miller) on the night of his best friend Rob's (Stahl-David) farewell party. Rob is going to Japan to become vice-president of something and his last night there is overshadowed by a fight he has with the girl he likes (Yustman).
Rob's romantic drama gets its thunder stolen, when a giant creature begins to attack the city, creating erathquakes with every footstep and throwing down skyscrapers with a terrifying ease.
This is where "Cloverfield" really begins; you will first have to believe that in the middle of this chaos, Hud never throws away the camera "people will want to know how this happened" he explains, but one could argue he's probably thinking more about getting millions of hits in YouTube.
Reeves is an apt filmmaker that allows his direction to become invisible and the fact that an average Joe is carrying the camera, removes all the privileges we're given by conventional multicamera cinematography.
We are seeing what the characters are living and the fact that it takes them so much to find out what the creature actually is (although its origins are never revealed) makes the fear reach brilliant proportions.
Keeping the monster from the audiences as much as it can is a wise move, but the filmmakers also please fans of instant gratification by giving them whole scenes where the creature is the star and perhaps not even them will come out with full knowledge of what they're facing.
In a way this plays out as an accurate metaphor for terrorism which comes full fledged and desperate, destroying lives indiscriminately.
But even as the images of a destroyed Manhattan bring shudders of a historical kind, the film is in fact a very dark comedy.
The characters have motivations that include heroism, love and survival, but one can instantly assume that this is the first time that they encounter a problem bigger than anything in their limited world (one suggests they should run away to Brooklyn...).
The film disposes of them in the same way their generation gets rid of fads, history and people.
That it takes a monster for them to realize there is much more out there is both funny and very, very frightening.

1 comment:

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