Magazine article The Spectator

What a Monster

Magazine article The Spectator

What a Monster

Article excerpt

Cloverfield 15, Nationwide

Cloverfield is tiresome, dumb and horrid, and just in case you didn't get that I'll say it again: this film is tiresome, dumb and horrid. Don't go. Do anything but go.

Don't be swayed, as I was, by the fact that on its opening day in America it grossed $16 million, grossed a further $41 million on its opening weekend -- making it the most successful January release of all time -- and has since grossed $56 million worldwide.

Don't be swayed into thinking there must be something in it, because there isn't.

It's a monster movie that not only fails as a monster movie -- I've been more scared on the teacups at the fair -- but also fails at having anything to say. It affects to have things to say about 9/11 and its immediate aftermath but doesn't. In fact, the most terrifying thing about Cloverfield is that it imagines it does.

OK, the main protagonists in Cloverfield are Rob (Michael Stahl-David), his brother Jason (do we care? ), Jason's girlfriend Lily (especially as they're all unknowns) and Beth (and not very good) whom Rob slept with a month or so ago, and hasn't spoken to since, because that is what Rob is like, the silly sausage. (Trust Rob to realise he loves her only when Manhattan is being reduced to dust and he has to go find her! ) Rob and Jason and Lily and Beth are good-looking twentysomething New Yorkers who appear to have already achieved the sort of loftliving lifestyle that involves exposed brickwork, trendy art and state-of-the-art coffee machines. I do not imagine you will be on your own in thinking, from the off, that they deserve everything coming to them, and if it is especially grisly, then so be it.

What is coming to them starts coming at midnight during a going-away party for Rob, who is off to a new job in Japan (who will loft-sit? ). All this is caught on a camcorder by a friend of Rob and Lily and Jason and Beth called Hud, who had been asked to film the party guests. He initially protested. 'I'm not a professional, ' he said. You can say that again, you will say. This film, which purports to be that home video, shakes and tumbles, tumbles and shakes. When you come out of the cinema you will not only be thinking, 'Thank God that's over, ' having been willing it to end, but also feeling as if your eyes have been trapped in a maraca as played by a particularly wild Calypso person. …

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