Thursday, 3 March 2011


Director: Matt Reeves
Producer: J. J Abrams
Year: 2008
Cast: Michael Stahl-David, T.J Miller, Jessica Lucas, Odette Yustman,Lizzie Caplan, Mike Vogel

Cloverfield is an American Disaster-Monster film which like The Blair Witch Project(1999)  is all entirely shot by hand-held cameras. The film follows the adventure of six young New Yorkers who gathered in a roof party and short after found themselves running away from the city while it was being attacked by a gigantic monster: no human weapon can stop it and no one knows its origins.. This thrilling 'being chased by the unknown' film combined with a multi-character drama and a sense of terrorism which recalls the disaster of the Twin Towers in New York at 9/11/2001 is a breathtaking documentation of  helpless people running for their lives, trying to protect their loved ones and being confronted with their own fate: their possible death in this dust of panic. It is a meditation to the futility of human existence and the loneliness of death.

FIG.2: The 3 friends including the one behind the camera

The first half an hour of the film is dedicated to the characters of the film as their lives are being shown through an amateur footage.They are all every day, real characters: each one has its own back story, they deal with their life, they are in relationships, they apply for jobs, they celebrate, they chat and are in general interacting with each another. The reason why the director chose to show the characters at the beginning of the film is to add more realism to the whole story and to bring the audience closer to them, which will make them sympathise with them in the rest f the film as they go through this challenge with a monster intruding the city.
A basic characteristic of this film is its old school filming tricks and stomach churning disorientationThe camera is always in motion and can sometimes be annoyingly non focusing, especially in scenes were a lot of action is taking place. Some people found this sort of filming confusing others believe it perfectly represents the panic and the chaos happening in New York during the attack.

FIG.3: The chaos
 The film features amazing CG artwork that even if it was all done with a hand held camera the visual effects were promising and were not made to satisfy the viewer but to see through the citizens' eyes.  The design of the four legged monster, which was some sort of cross between a reptile and an amphibian recalled the Godzilla phenomenon. The director choice to show the monster towards the end of the film could be considered as a wrong move as the feeling of 'the unknown'  is far more effective than what's obvious.
What also helped Cloverfield with its success was its viral marketing strategies created for it months before the actual release of the film. According to Kevin Allen : "Before the title of the movie was revealed, the producers had announced the official site of the film which was This site has a collections of many photos that are time coded. People can view the pictures and speculate what the movie is all about.After the revelation of the title the was launched and the true trailer of the film was shown there." (Allen.2008:93). Like in the campaign of the Blair Witch project, the producers of the film used the most commonly used part of the media today: The Web,which without doubt has proven to be the quickest way to spread information especially for being used by the youth today.

FIG.4: Monster Concept Art

In conclusion, Cloverfiels is a very interesting film to watch. It can either make you run out of the room because of seasickness or capture you with its masterful suspense in editing.Although the story is not an original one (A monster attacking a city -like Godzilla) its visual effects are worth watching while its marketing campaign has proved very successful.

List of Illustrations
FIG.1: Film Poster At: (accessed on 27/2/2011)
FIG.2: Film Still At: (accessed on 27/2/2011)

Tyler, Josh (2008) Film Review At: (accessed on 3/3/2011)

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