The original Cloverfield was released in 2008, was produced by J.J. Abrams and directed by Matt Reeves. It followed a group of New York City partygoers on a night where something attacks the city. The interesting part is that the movie is essentially ‘found footage’ – the whole thing is seen on the characters’ video camera as they were recording goodbye messages for a friend who was leaving town. They run through the night, attempting to escape the city – and due to the nature of the camerawork, you don’t really get a clear shot of what is attacking the city until late in the movie.
J.J. Abrams again produces this non-sequel, which is directed by Dan Trachtenberg. It’s a non-sequel because while Cloverfield is in the title – it’s not really related. Abrams has stated it’s in the same universe.
The movie starts with Michelle, a young fashion designer hopeful, as she hurriedly packs a bag and leaves her apartment and her engagement ring. As she is driving away, she receives a call from ‘Ben’, who strategically lets us know through the phone conversation that they had a fight and she ran out. She hangs up on him, but then her car is hit and flipped off the road.
She wakes up in a concrete room, chained to wall with an IV drip in her arm, which is terrifying. She meets Howard – who is creepy as hell - and learns that he found her and saved her by bringing her back to his….let’s call it a Doomsday bunker…and mending her wounds. She meets the other resident – Emmett, who seems nice enough. Michelle learns from Howard that there was an ‘attack’ and that the air outside is no longer safe – but is he telling the truth or is he completely nuts? Emmett seems to back up this claim, but Michelle is not sure she can trust Howard and attempts to make a break for it. Once she gets near the door, she sees a woman – her face ravaged by something – who is demanding to get in, but then collapses. Michelle then starts to believe what Howard is saying, and tries to accept her situation, despite several strange inconsistencies with what Howard is saying.
That’s about all I’m going to say because the point of the movie becomes whether you believe Howard, or if you think Howard is crazy. Either way, the movie feels very claustrophobic and the tension builds right up until the end. I have heard others say that they liked it right up until the end ruined it, and honestly I didn’t mind the end. I felt that it tied up the movie nicely and left it really wide open for more sequels or non-sequels.
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead who was in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – but was even cooler as Mary Todd Lincoln in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter plays Michelle. We never really find out what happened between her and Ben, but man, does she stumble into some crazy. She does a great job as a woman who is first panicked, then grateful to be safe, then growingly wary – and finally back to panicked.
- John Goodman plays Howard, and let me tell you – if you didn’t find him creepy before, then you will after this movie! He seems trustworthy, but then Michelle starts finding little bits of evidence here and there to the contrary.
- John Gallagher plays Emmet – and he does a good job of seeming pleasantly naïve. He’s just a friendly nice guy who is happy that he’s safe… or is he?
- That’s about it – Bradley Cooper voices Ben on the phone for a minute – but that’s about it. It’s him because remember, he started out as Will in Alias.
Overall, it’s creepy – it’s weird, it’s short, and it built tension well. You don’t need to check it out on the big screen, but it’s probably worth a rental. Also – it really has nothing to do with the first Cloverfield, so if you haven’t seen that, it won’t affect your viewing of this.
6 out of 10. Gained points for Emmett being such a nice guy. Gained points for the shower curtain with the rubber duck on it. Lost points for the pigs.