Friday, 25 February 2011

Cloverfield 2008 | Matt Reeves!Cloverfield_poster.jpg
Fig  1 | 'Cloverfield' Poster
2008 saw a new envisioning of the verisimilitude horrors genre in Matt Reeves directed feature Cloverfield, which like ‘The Blair Witch Project’ directed by Daniel Myrick used the theory of Handheld Amateur Video. The difference however is the creature although never actually seen fully is present and known in appearance unlike the Blair Witch of its predecessor. For this reason the film has been controversial in debate to it success as a horror film. In this review I look at the reason for it failure as a horror but not as a movie as the imagery present quite easily suggest the affects of verisimilitude can be used more expansively in the world of film and in turn a more successful ideology to follow to create great movies.
The synopsis of the film revolves around Rob Hawkins whom arrives home to find a farewell party waiting for him. Yet as issue with the woman he loves result in her leaving, the world around them is terrorized by an unknown entity which (like its predecessors Godzilla and King Kong) begins to attack Manhattan.  Rob now faces this creature as he attempts to cross Lower Manhattan to get to his love. 

Fig 2 | The Army Attacking The Monster
The film storyline really bring down the film as a horror and in no way can connect the viewers in terms of interaction. This is because it part take in natural cycle of monster movies; In turn ‘Most horror and monster stories follow a simple format: "What if [insert worst thing you can imagine]...?" - Sam Emerson.  Nevertheless from the perspective of a sci-fi thriller the imagery is unnatural in a sense to the common monster movie and suggests that verisimilitude video capture is the way forward for the genre. In Reeves case the film follows a basic principle of a damsel-in-distress as the hero (Rob) attempts to reach her in aid while a creature terrorise the city around them.  The picture for this reason is more queasy-cam than its predecessor ‘Blair Witch’ and yet this usage presets a more relatable response to how we would act as viewer in a situation of catastrophe.  In these terms the erratic movement is a bonus allowing us to feel the nausea of being under attack and relatable. Moreover the strongest scene of this notion is when the alien arachnids attack the group in the subway. For a view that seen is making the audience ask for a sick bag and yet the plot is more relatable in away when they attack Hud (The Cameraman in the picture) we find it hard to not lean back into our chairs. Therefore the usage of verisimilitude camera theory works to the advantage of a sci-fi thriller instead of a horror.
Fig 3 | One Of Many - A Glimpse Of The Monster
This is down to more obviously the use a CGI as the film loses the value of belief as we see the part of the creature for the first time. In turn the use of handheld camera is a representation which has the effect of make us believes the story is true and yet with the introduction of CGI the film is no longer of that calibre and appears false due the inconsistency between animation and reality. Furthermore compared Blair Witch and the 2009 epic directed by Oren Peli ‘Paranormal Activity’  it is to see that Cloverfield lack the natural fulfilment  of the ‘fear of the unknown’ that these other to partake in.  Still it’s ability in the sci-fi genre is riveting and the subtle imagery of creature toys with us wanting to know more about what it looks like; ‘deploying its special effects well and never breaking the illusion that it is all happening as we see it.’ – Roger Edbert. Therefore keeping us on our toes to wondering where it will strike next. It strongest representation can be a choice of the scene where the remaining characters survive a helicopter crash in central parks and as Hud is filming as the creature appears above him. Moreover another scene representing such point is when subtle scuttling noise can be heard and as they turn the night vision on the camera the vision of the  alien arachnids are feet away sends a chilling figure down your spine
Fig 4 | The First Sight Of The Creature

Another view point however is to look at the monster genre as a whole and the similarities that all these feature have – i.e. a hidden message. In these terms this make us question ‘Is this attack so terrifying because it has obvious shades of 9/11’ - Olly Richards . The answer is no doubt a yes as the comparisons with of monster movies suggest just that.  For instance the 1954 interpretation of Godzilla evidently speaks metaphorically on the Japanese view USA and the destruction they caused in Hiroshima. Therefore in conclusion Reeves movie is simple a film intent on suggesting the horror of terrorism reciprocate the cloud effect of the falling of the towers as well as the tube bombing of 7/7 which we were unaware of until the last second. In turn the camera becomes a vision into the spectators of those days and the awful imagery in presented of death. Nevertheless the film therefore is horrific in the sense of implication more than verisimilitude.
Fig 5 | The Head Of The Statue Of Liberty Lay In The Street

In terms of Cloverfield I believe it to be an adaptation in essence of to theory creating a hybrid and therefore importance to viewer’s thoughts and perceptions on a given matter. In turn the film isn’t like that of Blair Witch as the special affect counteracts the believability of the feature as well as the ideology of a monster feels ludicrous in today’s world compared with the it sister of that same year Quarantine which depict the ideology of bio-chemicals and the enhancement of rabies which turns us into zombie more or less and in turn becoming a more frightening notion. However the success of this film is the horror is a relatable metaphor to the rise of terrorist acts and the destruction it cause to it surrounding. Moreover the film show destruction of friends and family very much like the bombing and 9/11. In turn Reeves’ monster feature works probably the best out of all monster movies as it suggest to the viewer how we would have seen the horrors of the trade tower through eyes of bystander.
Fig 6 | Mind Your Head The Creature Looks Down At Hud

List Of Illustrations

Fig 1  Reeves, Matt (2008) Cloverfield
[Film Poster] From: Cloverfield

Fig 2 Reeves, Matt (2008) The Army Attacking The Monster
[Film Still] From: Cloverfield
Fig 3  Reeves, Matt (2008) ) One Of Many - A Glimpse Of The Monster
[Film Still] From: Cloverfield

Fig 4  Reeves, Matt (2008) The First Sight Of The Creature
[Film Still] From: Cloverfield

Fig 5  Reeves, Matt (2008) The Head Of The Statue Of Liberty Lay In The Street
[Film Still] From: Cloverfield

Fig 6  Reeves, Matt (2008) Matt - Mind Your Head The Creature Looks Down At Hud
[Film Still] From: Cloverfield

Emerson, Sam. Cloverfield
 (Accessed on 21.02.11)

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