The Most Effective Horror Film in Quite Some Time
A surefire marketing campaign ongoing for months has already insured producer J.J. Abrams’s disaster film CLOVERFIELD’s initial success; most of its audience will likely know next to nothing about the actual film before seeing it. In this day and age that is a feat in itself, but does CLOVERFIELD live up to the hype? The answer is mostly yes. Taking the hand-camera “realism” popularized with THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and pushing it to the highest possible level, the film puts the viewer in the characters’ shoes as never before and it sticks strictly to that code, which is one of its biggest assets. CLOVERFIELD is all about being in the moment and doesn’t waste time with answers, all leading up to one hell of a thrillride.
The filmmakers seemed to hold realism above all else; there are jumps in the tape during explosions, cuts to earlier shot footage when the camera is turned off and all the shakiness a stomach can handle. The film’s many visual effects (such as the now instantly-recognizable flying statue head) are integrated into the handheld footage incredibly well. Many of the film’s most effective scares come from how well the effects fit in with the real action. While not much can be said about the film without spoiling something, it is indeed very tense and, at times, genuinely frightening.
Despite all its strength, there were a few nagging flaws that detracted from the whole. For a film that strived for as much realism as possible, there certainly are a lot of coincidences. The characters just seem to happen upon every major event in the attack on the city, from the Statue of Liberty’s head landing on their street to, well, everything else. The camera operator, aside from being emotionally stunted (sticking in tired jokes whenever he can), must have had his hand glued to the camera. A reason for filming everything is given early on- “people will want to see how it all went down”- but still. The film prides itself on realism so much, showing its characters as archetypes of what anyone would do in such a situation, but it seems much more likely that any extra objects slowing people down (such as the camera) would be dumped after a while, under the circumstances.
Full review at http://newmanscorner.blogspot.com