Essy Moestl


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Cloverfield

Cloverfield owes a debt to The Blair Witch Project. The most obvious similarity is the decision to show the entire event through the lens of a camera. The structure is similar as well – a slow build-up as we get to know the characters. Here’s where one of Blair Witch’s flaws creeps into Cloverfield. The opening sequences last too long. They’re supposed to be introducing us to the protagonists, but they’re dull and a little tedious. We start itching for something to happen. For 20 minutes, experiencing Cloverfield is like watching the home movies of strangers.

As with The Blair Witch Project, however, once things start happening, the intensity explodes off the screen. The inability to see exactly what is happening is part of the film’s appeal.

The film – which is essentially the content of one video tape – begins in April with a cute little scene between lovers Rob and Beth , who have just spent their first night together and are filming each other in the morning. Things jump ahead to a night in May. Rob is leaving for Japan the next day and this is his going-away party. In attendance are his brother, Jason, Lily and Rob’s best friend. Things are going well at the party until all hell breaks loose outside. There are explosions. Buildings topple. Projectiles hurtle through the air. In a matter of minutes, New York is in chaos. This time, however, the attacker isn’t a terrorist – it’s a giant monster. And it appears to be immune to everything the army throws at it.

Nothing concrete is revealed about the monster (although there is speculation). Is it from outer space? From deep in the ocean? Why is it in New York? What are its capabilities? What eventually happens to it? By confining the action in the film to what’s on the videotape, Cloverfield eliminates the need to talk to these points.

There are moments of high tension and the sense of danger feels closer and more real than in any recent motion picture.