Saturday, January 19, 2008

Go see Cloverfield

I have never been scared by a monster movie before. It's just not a scary genre. Even the best eventually devolve into logistical exercises: will the military force/secret weapon/overloading powerplant/competing monster be enough to kick the monster's ass, or not? Usually in monster movies you have a ringside seat for the devastation. Ringside is not a scary place to be.

Cloverfield puts you in the ring. For me, it was profoundly unnerving. It does not look or feel like a monster movie. It does not look or feel like a movie at all. It looks and feels like what it purports to be--some poor schmuck's camcorder ride through hell.

In the forward to Dinosaur Tales, Ray Bradbury confesses that he and Ray Harryhausen and their wives once went to see a production of Siegfried just to see Fafnir, the dragon. I went to Cloverfield to see the monster, natch. Only monster has become waaay too familiar and cuddly a word to describe this thing. It's a monster the way things you imagined would come in the night and get you when you were five are monsters. As a reviewer on Ain't It Cool News said, "What you're looking at quite simply registers in your brain as an abomination."

Yuck. Who knows, maybe you'll see it and think it sucks, but I've been out of the theater for almost an hour and the hairs are still up on the back of my neck. I spent the whole drive home expecting to hear/feel ungodly huge footsteps and see flaming cars and pieces of buildings flying through the air. I don't want to go to bed. I haven't been this heebed out by a movie in ages, maybe ever.

In short, I loved it.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Louis B. said...

I trust you when it comes to this shit. Will see it.

6:24 AM  
Anonymous Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. said...

I agree: a must see movie!!

I and my wife did not find the "shaky cam" effects distracting, and we're both sort of sensitive to that when it is over done.

None of the criticisms I've heard about it in the press or the blogsites are really valid: given the conceit that this is the handheld recording of some ordinary schmucks, of COURSE you are not going to have big name actors, see or know everthing that's happening or have it all explained; be in on the policy making decisions when the President, the military, and the scientists in their lab coats try to come up with solutions. You want to see that, rent the classic giant monster movies.

I was also glad that they did NOT rely too much on startling the audience or using too much gore when they could have: they generated their terror and tension honestly!

This is the kaiju movie from the point of view of the YouTube/MySpace generation. And really, for all their occasional blockheadedness, it is realistic blockheadedness.

Plus, you still get lots of monster-smashing-city action anyway.

5:38 AM  

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