27 March 2008

Mooney at the Movies: Cloverfield

So here's another movie I totally slept on. Can't believe it took me this long to see it, but here goes...

You do NOT want to see why his face is like that. (Paramount)

Cloverfield (B+)

Starring Michael Stahl-David, T.J. Miller, Jessica Lucas, Lizzy Caplan
Written by Drew Goddard
Directed by Matt Reeves

Cloverfield is one of those movies that could only be made in this decade. Thanks to cheap but high-tech cameras and YouTube, everyone's a filmmaker now. But despite being intentionally amateurish, this feels like the director is really in control.

Using the same hand-held-cam, drop-you-in-the-middle-of-hell approach used by The Blair Witch Project, only to better effect here, the cast of unknowns flees Manhattan after some nasty tremors and seeing the Statue of Liberty's severed head roll by. Captured in semi-real time, you know as little about what's happening as the cast does, which really ratchets up the tension.

In many ways, Cloverfield has a lot more in common with The Blair Witch Project than say, Godzilla, but that's certainly no dis. Whereas the panic and terror of the lost bunch of twentysomethings never really caught on in Blair, this flick really captures the uncertainty of these unlucky few. (There's a scene inside a subway tunnel that'll certainly give you the willies.)

Though it's not as good as last year's South Korean import The Host (which, to be fair, had a lot more going on than Cloverfield), this is still an inventive and frightening thriller. I can't wait to see what director Matt Reeves does for a follow-up.

One final word: this is the last I ever want to see of the "shakycam." Ever.

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