I’ll admit I’m probably stretching the definition of ‘horror’ here. Monster movies seem to be a genre unto themselves. You never see anyone talk about ‘masked killer’ movies or ‘scary white face’ kid films, but people always refer to monster movies as such.
I’ll say it now. Cloverfield is unfairly maligned when it actually does what it sets out to do extremely well. Is it a controversial opinion? I hope not, but I’ve met far more people that dislike this film than those who like it.
The set-up is simple, but I’ll explain it for the benefit of the 3 people reading this who haven’t seen it: A group of friends gather for a going away part of one of their members. A monster attacks the City. People run. It’s a fairly simple set up (To be fair you can reduce any film to a simple set up) and the rest of the film is concerned with the friends getting away while the army and the largely unseen (But largely felt) monster rampages on.
It had been a while since I had seen Cloverfield, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it’s a lot more successful than I’d originally given it credit for. One criticism has always been why the lead would venture across most of New York to save a woman who might not even want to see him. It’s a fair criticism, or so I originally thought, but the film provides that answer quite simply, and you could read the monster as one hulking giant metaphor. Listen, it’s OK I’m not about to get all film-lit on you, but it’s something that’s worth thinking about (It’s certainly a better pastime than wondering where the monster came from).
The scares, such as they are, are handled well with a few genuinely great surprise moments that still work now (One character’s unfortunate…inflation…is a highlight). My only real criticism is that there’s a moment where the film seems to stop dead so we can get a full on view of the monster. It just seems like it was put there by a studio who couldn’t bare to see their special effects budget go to waste on something you couldn’t see properly. It’s a shame, but the film recovers from it quickly (It has to, it ends like ten minutes later). Also, there’s a great moment early on that makes you think they’re setting up a sequel (Our ‘camera’ locks on to someone else who’s also filming what’s going on – you could conceivably make 10 different movies about the events of that night) but I’m impressed they’ve never gone down that road. Lord knows we could do with more giant rampaging metaphors.
Netflix issues prevented me from seeing tonight’s originally scheduled film. But we’ll be back tomorrow with our regular scheduled found-footage-view-o-rama!*
*Note, not actual title.