Who would have thought that the writer of UNDER SEIGE: DARK TERRITORY would one day end up directing one of the most groundbreaking films in the past twenty years? I just got back from seeing the top-secret JJ Abrams project known only as CLOVERFIELD and ran directly to my computer to slam out some thoughts, all of which are positive. This is going to sound extremely bold, but CLOVERFIELD is life changing. Sure it’s just a movie and yeah, it’s not the best movie of all-time, but it will change the way films are made and will forever become a classic among young movie viewers everywhere.
Slice and I chatted a bit about this in the car, so there might be some overlap in our opinions, but do you remember the first time you saw JURASSIC PARK? Do you remember how it altered every film to come after it and your expectations? CLOVERFIELD works the same magic as it’s so incredibly convincing and effective that it’s mere existence will challenge your views of other films – “it just wasn’t CLOVERFIELD” will become the new line heard round the campus.
Why is the film so damn effective? Funny how just yesterday I read an article online about horror video games and why they’re better than actual movies. The author’s observations led him to believe that one of the main reasons was the game player is essentially THE character in the game, thus the gamer is experiencing the events first hand, which can be terrifying. CLOVERFIELD puts the same thoughts to the test by sticking a camera into some “Joe Smith’s” hands, and shooting the entire movie first person. The effect is that the viewer in the theater subconsciously feels as if they are that person with the camera. I know it has been done before (BLAIR WITCH, DIARY OF THE DEAD), but none done with such competence. What results is an actual scary movie with some genuinely creepy, tense moments and the fruition of well-developed characters.
The screenplay was truly in touch with reality. What transpires is an astoundingly believable situation, which we’re supposed to be laughing at. A giant monster attacks New York City? Seriously? The fact that it’s 100% believable only aids in the fear factor. The absolute best part of Drew Goddard’s screenplay is that we learn nothing about the monster or it’s parasites that jump off its back. We are left guessing until the end, but not having answers spoon fed to us only makes the film that much more frightening.
And although we don’t learn anything about the monster’s origins, we do get plenty of ass-kicking creature FX. The fact that the film is shot in first person helps hide many of the CG flaws making this one of the most realistic monsters to ever hit the big screen. Besides looking just fearsome, both the giant monster and its parasites have the most gut wrenching sounds.
The roar, which many of you have heard online, shakes the theater. If you see this film in a well-equipped theater, expect to have your balls shaken by some of the best sound design to ever hit a theater. The explosions and roars, and especially the creepy noises made by the parasites, will chill you down to the core. An effective score and sound design can turn a good movie into a great movie, which is the case here.
In the end, I was disappointed – and not by the movie. CLOVERFIELD is one of those films you wish you could see for the very first time again because the impact will just never be the same on second viewing. I treasured the experience of getting to see this in the theater and it will forever leave a mark on me. “This is a story that needs to be told…” there are still good movies to be made – and people who have the heart to make them.