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E.C. McMullen Jr.
Head Production Designer
JOSEPH CROSS, BRIANA EVIGAN,
It's a giant monster movie. You can't help but think GODZILLA. That's okay, but I want you to keep another mythos in mind. Something American. More on that later.
CLOVERFIELD was written by Drew Goddard (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER [TV, ANGEL [TV],LOST [TV], ALIAS [TV]) and directed by Matt Reeves (CONVICTION [TV]). It opens with color bars and a warning that what we’re about to watch is government property: video recovered from the "Cloverfield" incident, from an area "formerly known as Central Park".
The film that follows is entirely on one video camera. It starts with a very early morning view from a very expensive Manhattan apartment overlooking Central Park. Jason Hawkins (Mike Vogel: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE , POSEIDON) wakes his stunningly beautiful wife Lily (Jessica Lucas: THE COVENANT, HALLOWEENTOWN II) and decides to videotape their preparations for a going away party for Jason’s brother Rob (Michael Stahl-David). Rob is about to leave for some corporate VP position in Japan and Rob’s many friends decide to give him a big send off.
At the party Jason hands off the video documenting duties to his buddy Hud (T.J. Miller) who proceeds to take the job way too seriously. Hud's fascination in the uninterested Marlena (Lizzy Caplan: TRU CALLING [TV]) provides plenty of humor, as does Hud's inappropriate video attention to Rob's unrequited love for Rob's friend Beth (Odette Yustman: TRANSFORMERS).
Following the party gossip is so interesting you almost forget what's coming.
Soon enough the ground shakes and the lights flicker. Everyone rushes outside in time to see the mangled head of the statue of liberty come flying through the air. The confusion and terror is well done and feels especially real when shown this way. Hud keeps filming because he decides people have to see what's happening.
And yes, what's happening is a giant monster is crashing it's way through Manhattan, knocking down buildings and shaking the earth with it's roar. At first you only get brief glimpses as Rob and his friends do the smart thing and try to get away and try to get out of the way of the soldiers, tanks and planes pouring in to fight the beast. But then Rob gets a brief phone call from Beth. She's hurt and trapped. She's also in the heart of the city – the worst place to be.
What happens next? I'm not going to say. I'm also mysteriously not going to do a SCIENCE MOMENT for this one and I'm not going to say why. It has to do with the American mythos I believe is being portrayed here. It's being discussed all over the net and if you're an alumnus of Miskatonic University in Arkham, Mass., you already know what I'm talking about. If that means nothing to you, don't worry about it. The movie works either way.
And man does it work!
I watched it at a midnight showing, it's now 2:25 A.M., and if I could go see it again right now I would. This is a huge, terrible event shown on the very small scale through this one camera carried by a desperate group of friends. It made it all feel chillingly real.
This one gets five shriek girls all the way.