It has arguably been quite some time since a movie in the style of the classic ‘creature features’ of the 1950’s has come out and actually accomplished anything beyond getting an audience to giggle nervously. In our science saturated times it can be very difficult to get people to be afraid of monsters unless they are human, as is the case with serial killers. Real fear is always going to be difficult to generate no matter how good a director or his actors and special effects crew are. These days, we see so many terrible events over the news that we aren’t likely to be scared by anything that’s not highly realistic.
So, when director Matt Reeves decided to shoot the movie Cloverfield, he set out to create a monster movie that was as realistic as possible. If you have seen The Blair Witch Project, then you already have a general idea of the way many parts of this film were shot. While the filming styles recall a similar concept, Cloverfield is a whole lot easier on the eyes and the nervous system. However, the home video recording aspect lends a definite feel of authenticity that makes the movie much scarier than what it otherwise could have been.
The plot follows a group of young adults in New York City who are attending a farewell party for Rob (played by Michael Stahl-David), one of their friends, who is leaving for a job in Japan. Those at the party are taping messages on video when what at first appears to be an earthquake strikes. From here utter chaos grips everyone in the film and the events unfold in a similar manner to those events recorded during disasters in the past few years involving terrorist activities. For some, this can be difficult to watch due to the footage’s ties to the way real tragedies look when they are filmed and for this, Cloverfield has been criticized.
Yet, movies that deal with fear almost always use real world events as their touch stone and just as Night of the Living Dead was seen as a commentary on the Vietnam War, many viewers have expressed their feelings that Cloverfield is a commentary on the “terror phobic” nature of the mass media in the world today. It really takes nothing away from the film one way or another because the true point here is the paranoia of uncontrollable events and Cloverfield finely delivers this sensation throughout the course of the movie.
If you’re looking for solid scares in a movie that features a monster then you really can’t go wrong with Cloverfield. It might be a little bit scarier than the majority of monster movies in the past, but it certainly does what it’s supposed to do, keeping you glued to the screen throughout the unfolding of the story. Overall, the premise is more believable than most, the action is intense and the characters in the story are relatable enough to make it more than a movie about a special effects budget.