Cloverfield ****

Warning: Not for the weak of stomach.

Grab your Dramamine and brace yourself, the entire film is shot with a hand held camera. This technique is quite jarring and a cinematic language that is out of the norm. In fact the last big film that comes to mind is the Blair Witch Project (1999). Unlike its predecessor, however, Cloverfield (2008 ) is packed with action, suspense and best of all – monsters!

Drew Goddard the writer behind episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Lost and Alias teams up with J.J. Abrahms to bring big scary monsters to audiences. The movie starts very ominously with placards stating that the film is the property of the U.S. Government and includes a hint of Abrams mythology. After being introduced to the spunky, young leads: Marlena, Lily, Hud and Rob Hawkins mayhem and terror ensue as the bug/crab like creature, Cloverfield, tears through New York City.

I cannot comment enough on the hand held camera work and how appropriate it was for this story. The first person perspective gave it a bit of a claustrophobic tunnel-vision feel, but put you right in the action. Cloverfield is a commentary to the cultural phenomenon of “iReporting,” which has been made possible by Apple’s obsession to add an “i” to the beginning of everything. It is also made possible due to an increase in personal, user-friendly technology such as camera-phones. The filmmakers actually watched YouTube for phone videos from 9-11 and other disasters in preparing for this film, which they talk about on the DVD’s extras.

This movie is most fun on a stormy night with all of the lights off. Great for sucking you in and keeping you at the edge of your seat. Chock full of visual effects surprises, Cloverfield is an incredibly imaginative beast that is fascinating to watch – when you’re given a glimpse of him. Definitely one of the best suspense films I’ve seen in a while.

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