Let me say from the beginning that I was not a fan of "The Blair Witch Project." I thought it was not very scary or worth my time for that matter. Cloverfield will inevitably be compared to that film because they are both from the new genre of "found footage" films. I have to say that I was expecting a fun monster movie, but got much more. Cloverfield may in fact be the sign of new life in this new genre because it did what Blair Witch could not. Let me let you in on a little secret, Cloverfield is not about the monster. Cloverfield is about the people who try to survive. I was surprised that I found myself caring about the people who were on the screen. They were real people trying to understand and deal with what was happening. What made this so powerful was the 20 or so minutes of the goodbye party for the main character, which was taping over a day at Coney Island with the girl he finally got together with. You get some of this throughout the movie as well. Why this works is that the same story would have worked if it was a natural disaster rather than a monster. The main character wants to correct a mistake that he made with the woman that he loves, and puts himself and his friends in danger to find her. As much as I rail against the "Hollywood Ending," I wanted these people to get that ending because I cared about them. That is what makes the movie work so well. Another thing that makes it work so well is that the viewer is left with so many questions about the monster. But the movie does not answer them because we see the story through those experiencing what is happening. They don't get any answers, so neither do we. We're left wanting more. We're left sad for what happened to those people whom we came to care about. So what about the monster? What is it? Where did it come from? I'm sure that there are so many theories that will drive conversation for years to come, or until we get a sequel. I liked that we did not get a full view of the creature until near the end. I liked how much like the creatures in the work of H. P. Lovecraft, this monster defies easy description. And it was genuinely scary at times. I jumped, which his hard for a movie to get me to do. And I'll admit that the little things that crawl off the monster made my skin crawl, and led to one of the most creepy moments in the film.
This movie gives me some hope for movies in the future. You can have big monsters or events. You could have a well known comic figure. But if the audience does not care about who is on the screen, the movie will fail. Cloverfied is not a failure. I can't wait to take a walk through it again.
Cloverfield gets 10/10