Cloverfield: Not a Monster Smash
The movie gives a go at realistic carnage with simple camerawork, but the technique is just a cheap attempt to portray 9/11 horrors
Cast: Michael Stahl-David, Odette Yustman, Lizzy Caplan
Script: Drew Goddard
Director: Matt Reeves
Rating: PG-13 for violence, terror and disturbing images
Cloverfield combines the terror of a monster attack on New York with the all-too-real horror of human beings at street level watching buildings fall. In this case, it's the story of a group of young, attractive, rich and unbearable friends who set out to rescue one of the over-privileged girls from their clique and escape.
Obviously, the plot is pure pretext, because the only thing of interest in Cloverfield is the carnage. The movie presents the chaos from a ground-level perspective with a hand-held digital video camera, but the simple technique contributes absolutely nothing to the terror factor that countless other movies haven't already explored. And despite the hype built around Cloverfield‘s realistic production values, recreating the traumas of September 11th only makes the falseness blatantly obvious. Images of urban destruction are manufactured to resemble the horrors New Yorkers remember or can vividly imagine, so much so that its differences from reality ultimately undermine the movie's strategy.
Above all, the producers of Cloverfield crassly exploit the emotional scars of September 11th to stir up undeserved tension and suspense…especially when it comes across as though the only New York these filmmakers know is the minuscule society of Manhattan's wealthy twenty-somethings. I'd rather have seen the stories of other New Yorkers in the same situation, but we're barely shown a single human face that isn't part of this little crew. Manhattan is the only area hit by the attack, but surely these mediocre actors and insufferable characters can't have been its only victims.