Cloverfield follows the story of Rob whose friends have set up a surprise party however it seems clear that from leaving Rob has left a relationship sour with a woman named Beth. As the party goes on it is interrupted by a quake which leads the party onto the roof of the building. As they look into the distance they witness an explosion which sends flaming debris tumbling towards them. The group of friends make their way into the street where they witness the statue of liberty's head come crashing towards them. After Rob loses his brother he decides to turn back in an effort to save Beth while avoiding a giant creature and its spawn.
Much like The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield is shot through the viewpoint of a handheld camera in an attempt to offer realism to the narrative. Through this camera the audience witness an attack almost mirroring that of 9/11, with images of dust rushing through the streets as a skyscraper collapses and people trudging around covered in dust in disbelief. Scott writes in his review ' The filmmakers add to the realism by tapping into history, as the look of the monster attack is clearly informed by the Sept. 11 tragedy. The roiling balls of smoke and dust barreling down Manhattan streets, the shell-shocked and dust-covered New Yorkers walking around like zombies, the swirling storms of loose papers -- this is, we can all testify, what an attack on New York looks like.' (Scott, 2009)
Also similar to The Blair Witch Project, the film was cleverly advertised using viral advertising. Paramount did well to keep everything about the film secret, the cast was hugely unknown and even the title wasn't fully specified. Again this worked extremely well and before the film was released forums were full of ideas about what the 'Cloverfield Project' was, many following the easter eggs and clues set down by the creators. In Knight's review he writes ' Paramount – who kept the production and even the title under wraps – are going to take a lot of hits from critics and cranky web surfers who have been expecting something a tad more substantial than what Cloverfield offers. For here is a movie that doesn’t stop for any of the standard psychological explanations for what we’re seeing or even pretend to have any depth. It’s never even clear what exactly the monster is or where it came from, there are no scenes of worried scientists with worried explanations and theories on how to stop the mayhem, no wrongheaded government officials addressing the nation. All refreshing (as was the blackout marketing campaign – surprise is Cloverfield’s best friend). (Knight, 2008)
A clever technique employed by Reeves is the way that the so called footage that has been found doesn't seemed to have been edited in any way. By this it means that when Hud stops recording we are left with remnants of Beth and Rob's relationship before the party and the reason why they fight at the beginning. This really puts the characters relationship into context and after the death of Rob's brother Jason he realises that Beth is his love. It adds another emotional level to the narrative in effort to raise the believability and empathy within the characters. Rich Cline writes ' There's not much more to it than that, although there are strong echoes of 9/11, plus a pointed jab at American military policy willing to lay waste to the city just to kill the marauding beast. And the double-layer videotape adds an emotional element as we see glimpses Rob and Beth's much happier day every time the camera stops filming. These touches, as well as the general urgency of the pace, help overcome the corny and contrived opening set-up sequences.' (Cline 2008)
Cloverfield should seem like a recycling of The Bair Witch Project but through a successful attempt in adding empathy with the characters while redefining the giant monster films. Through the use of clever editing the captured film feels like it has just been found showing the relationship between Beth and Rob easily creating their back story. Through the use of viral marketing it spawned a lot of interest and its camera technique created the realism which becomes horribly nostalgic of 9/11.
Mike Scott, Cloverfield review, 23/6/2009, http://www.nola.com/movies/index.ssf/2008/01/buzzpacking_cloverfield_a_gimm.html accessed on 23/2/2011
Richard Knight, Cloverfield review, 22/5/2008, http://knightatthemovies.com/KATMkt_2008Cloverfield.html accessed on 23/2/2011
Rich Cline, Cloverfield review, 28/1/2008, http://www.shadowsonthewall.co.uk/08/cloverfi.htm accessed on 23/2/2011
Movie Poster - http://images4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20080717091160/cloverfield/images/archive/3/34/20080717091339!Cloverfield_poster.jpg accessed on 23/2/2011
Dust attacks - http://www.dvdverdict.com/images/reviewpics/cloverfield03.jpg accessed on 23/2/2011
Cloverfield pictures viral site - http://www.1-18-08.com/ accessed on 23/2/2011
Beth, Rob and Beth Happy days - http://shocktillyoudrop.com/nextraimages/cloverfield-alt-end-4.jpg accessed on 23/2/2011