"My name is Robert Hawkins... Approximately seven hours ago, some... thing attacked the city. I don't know what it is. If you found this tape, I mean if you're watching this right now, then you probably know more about it than I do."
A monster movie released in 2008 by LOST
creator J. J. Abrams
, and directed by Matt Reeves. Cloverfield
follows a group of New Yorkers as they attempt to rescue the girlfriend of protagonist Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David, The Black Donnellys
) during an attack by a massive building-sized creature. The film is seen through the perspective of Hudson "Hud" Platt, Rob's friend, who is carrying around a camcorder throughout the film documenting the events
The movie was shot fairly cheaply, for a budget of roughly $25 million
. The movie is seen through a point-of-view perspective, and features homages to older movies (e.g., the Statue of Liberty's head rolling down a Manhattan street was inspired by a poster for John Carpenter
's Escape from New York
There were rumors for a time that Super 8
, directed by Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg
, was a prequel. It is actually an unrelated film, though this hasn't stopped Wild Mass Guessing
from fans who have noted similarities between the monsters in both movies.
This film provides examples of:
- Action Girl: When the protagonists are attacked by Clover's ticks in the subway, most of the characters run, apart from Marlena, who beats the shit out of one of them with a wooden plank.
- All There in the Manual: Information about the monster's possible origins and what happened immediately before the movie are all in the viral marketing campaign.
- Ambiguous Gender: Clover. Apparently, there's evidence to support both claims.
- Apocalyptic Log: The entire film.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The entire film is one long love letter to Kaiju films.
- Bat Scare: Non-winged example: a horde of rats runs toward, then right past, the main characters when they venture into the subway tunnels. The rodents don't attack, but they are running from something else...
- Behind the Black: Tanks sneak up on the camera. And eventually the creature itself.
- Big Applesauce: Needs no explanation.
- Body Horror: What happens when you're bitten by a parasite? Ludicrous Gibs!
- Camera Abuse: Although the camcorder held by Hud suffers from both numerous drops AND the detonation of an Earth-Shattering Kaboom, it — or at least the camera's SD card — still survives.
- Call Back: The movie starts at 6.30 am two months prior, after Beth and Rob have their night together it ends at 6.30 ish when the monster gets Hammer Downed, with Beth and Rob dying together, chronologically. We also see Beth's apartment before the monster kills it. Jason, Rob's brother says something about "cherishing moments no matter how fleeting" and Rob does it. Marlena also mentions the monster eating people and then it ate Hud.
- Christmas Rushed: It had to be rushed into production (which started in August 2007) to be ready in time for its stone-set date of January 18th, 2008 (the trailer, which was released a month earlier, came out while the film was still in pre-production).
- Dada Ad: One of the hidden special features on the DVD is an ad for Slusho and... ye gods...
- Damsel in Distress: Rob's (and subsequently the group's) whole ill-advised foray into the city was to rescue his girlfriend Elizabeth.
- Deadpan Snarker: Marlena
- Developing Doomed Characters: The party is disturbed by a loud boom at 17:35. It's something of a relief for some viewers when the monster finally appears.
- Did Not Get the Girl: Hud can do little but watch in horror as Marlena dies horribly and messily in front of him.
- Does Not Know His Own Strength: According to the developers, the Brooklyn Bridge scene was changed from a hand destroying the bridge to a tail knocking it down, because they wanted to imply that Clover was doing its damage to the city unintentionally.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Several critics have brought up the large amount of 9/11 imagery used in the film.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Hud.
- Downer Ending: Hud is gnawed on by Clover. No one survives the bombing of NYC. Neither does Clover.
- It's assumed that Lily likely survived, as she was last seen boarding the first helicopter. But, even so, her boyfriend and friends died, and it's unlikely she'd ever get over this.
- One of the alternate endings suggest that at least Beth survived the Hammerdown bombing
- Dwindling Party
- Easter Egg: As Cracked.com points out, the monster's face was actually hidden in the movie poster months before the movie came out.
- Eldritch Abomination: This monster evokes this, though it's clearly influenced by various deep sea creatures.
- Fake Video Camera View
- Final Girl: Possibly Lily.
- Flashback Cut: Due to the fact that the "tape" that is the movie is being filmed on is taping over video from an earlier day, so when the video camera is paused and restarted bits of the original video remain.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Clover. Well, it does tend on Ugly Cute, though...
- Foregone Conclusion: It says right at the beginning that the video was recovered in Central Park. That doesn't bode well for the characters, being still in the middle of New York.
- Found Footage Films
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: The very last shot of the film, depicting one last home video, shows something falling into the ocean for a split second. Word of God is that this "something" is a satellite, the descent of which woke Clover up in the first place.
- It is hard to make out the fact that Hud gets his legs bitten off by the monster unless the scene is watched in slow-motion.
- During moments of camera damage, stills from King Kong, Godzilla, and Them are hidden amid the static.
- Gender-Equal Ensemble: Three boys (Rob, Jason and Hud) and three girls (Beth, Lily and Marlena).
- Godzilla Threshold: the Hammerdown Protocol — the soldier tells the group that the government is willing to "let this whole area go" — meaning MANHATTAN.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Semi-averted. You get a nice, big, gooey spatter of body parts... from behind a screen.
- Got the Whole World in My Hand: Tagruato's logo.
- Gratuitous Japanese: The ARG makes continuous references to the Tagruato corporation's old name, 力の手, in kanji. Always. Yes, even in the middle of otherwise English text.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: Hud, though nothing too graphic is shown.
- Helicopter Flyswatter: Near the end of the movie, the monster takes down a helicopter full of evacuees.
- Hellish Copter: The main characters manage to board evac choppers at the dawn of the second day of the disaster. Needless to say, Clover smacks down the one Hud is on.
- Hero of Another Story: The commentary refers to one background character, who happens to be recording the carnage like Hud, to be a potential one. Along with her, there are many people attending the party who go their separate ways after the attack. The ARG sheds light on a few others—there's a girl slumped over on a couch at Rob's party. It turns out she's hungover after downing a bunch of the Super Serum that may have been involved in Clover's creation. The serum was sent to her by her boyfriend, an Eco Terrorist never seen on screen who is trying to take down Tagruato, the corporation that accidentally unleashed Clover. The ARG also followed a few of the partygoers up to the night of the party.
- Hope Spot: Twice. After rescuing Hud's best friend's love interest, and the monster appearing to die, though people know the latter's going to go wrong.
- How We Got Here: Not entirely. Between filming the events, we see a previous recording of Rob and Elizabeth waking up after sleeping together the previous night and going to Coney Island. As we learned later on, Rob totally ignored Elizabeth after that day and was planning to leave to Japan for his new job. The movie and the recording ends with them on a ferris wheel looking towards the ocean where something has fallen into it.
- Ironic Echo Cut: Twice in the same scene. Lily says she'll tell Hud and Jason why Rob and Beth are so angry at each other if Hud turns off his camera. The next cut is her telling them that Rob and Beth slept together before he decided to move, and Hud's camera is still on but hidden on the floor. Lily then makes the two of them swear not to tell. Cut to Hud telling nearly everyone at the party about it.
- It Began with a Twist of Fate: The film would have been very different had Rob not insisted on going to save his girlfriend. While NYC was in the middle of an attack by a giant Eldritch Abomination.
- It's the Only Way to Be Sure: The Hammerdown protocol.
- Jitter Cam: Entirely justified by the concept, but the film still takes more flak for this than seems reasonable. Watching it on television is fine for most viewers.
- Kill 'em All: Presumably averted with Lily, although the movie never actually confirms this.
- Ludicrous Gibs: The fate of those who get bitten by a parasite. Poor Marlena.
- Kaiju: Though whether it's a mutant, a reawakened prehistoric monster, or an alien is never explained.
- Made of Iron: The freaking camera. It still isn't gone by the end, surviving longer than the humans do.
- When Clover eats Hud, the camera falls 70 feet, lands on the ground with a thud, and carries on running!
- Made of Plasticine: Humans. The monster is Nigh Invulnerable.
- Male Gaze: When Hud is filming Lily's goodbye to Rob, he instead focuses the camera on Marlena in the background.
- Matchlight Danger Revelation: As soon as the night-vision goes on, there are parasites right behind them. Justified, because they turned on the night-vision in response to hearing the parasites.
- Meaningful Background Event: See Freeze-Frame Bonus and How We Got Here above.
- Meaningful Name: Played straight with "Hud", whose name is a play on the term "heads' up display". Averted with Cloverfield, since it's some weird military designation.
- Cloverfield is a well-known street in Santa Monica, CA, which is part of Abrams' daily commute, and occurred to him basically at random.
- Also, clovers are the first plants to grow back in an area after a nuclear strike, which makes a lot of sense if you tend to the theory that the mysterious "HAMMERDOWN protocol" was a nuclear weapon.
- Monumental Damage: The Statue of Liberty, if the commercials didn't clue you in. The Brooklyn Bridge gets smashed, too, and so does the Empire State Building.
- Monster Is a Mommy: Inverted. The monster's a baby looking for his mommy. Not that there's even the slightest hint of it in the movie.
- Mood Whiplash: Intentionally done. Hud was accidentally taping over a cutesy video of the Official Couple and a few times when he stops the tape it cuts to about 30 seconds of sweetness between them.
- Newscaster Cameo: NY1's Roma Torre.
- Night-Vision Goggles: The camera's night vision mode during the subway sequence.
- No Endor Holocaust: Averted
- Non-Malicious Monster: If Word of God is to be believed, the monster itself is not purposely trying to cause trouble- he's just lost and wants to go home. It does intentionally eat people throughout the film, though.
- It also attacks since it's confused and frightened, it being only a lost, scared baby animal after all. (Awww... poor thing!)
- Nothing Is Scarier: The times when the characters (and audience) know the monster is out there but not in sight can be very frightening and tense.
- Not Listening to Me, Are You?: A variation. Lily suspects Hud isn't even pointing the camera at her when she's saying goodbye to Rob.
- Not Using the Z Word: No one says "Monster" or even compares Clover to any other Kaiju or monster movie through the entirety of the incident. Blame copyright.
- Nuke 'em: Averted, however, see below.
- Oh, Crap: Hud's reaction to Marlena crying blood.
- Everyone gets this when the monster sneaks up on Hud and just stares at him. Then it eats him.
- Even the very beginning gets a bit of an Oh, Crap from the audience when "Area formerly known as: Central Park" pops up on the screen, foreshadowing just how badly New York is about to get trashed.
- One-Woman Wail: Used in "Roar!", the theme playing over the credits.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Beth
- Panty Shot: Up Lily's dress as they're climbing over to the roof of Beth's building.
- Police Are Useless: Averted - the NYPD and emergency services apparently respond quickly and manage to organize the evacuation of Manhattan fairly efficiently.
- Product Placement: Nokia cellphone batteries become so important to one character that he loots some from an electronics store; Nokia is also the company that places ads to keep you company in those stressful desolate subway room scenes. Nokia phones are vital to the plot. Not to mention thirst-saving, parasite-blocking Mountain Dew. Also, Hud's Nikes get an extended shot at the end.
- Proportionately Ponderous Parasites: The flea-like creatures that live on Clover.
- Punny Name: Hud
- Pyrrhic Victory: The ending.
- Reality Has No Soundtrack: Has no non-diegetic music, except for the end credits.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: Also, the Statue Of Liberty head is, according to IMDB, about 50% larger than actual size because audiences thought the true-to-life size head in the teaser trailer looked too small.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Despite the military lockdown on pretty much everything, one soldier not only explains everything to Rob but lets him slip out the back to find Beth.
- Reconstruction: Instead of focusing on the monster pounding other monsters' faces in or wrecking the military, you're given the perspective from ordinary people... which makes one realize how horrific the bog-standard giant-monster movie plot would be if it really happened, which brings it back to its original form. Godzilla (1954), often considered the first Kaiju film (and certainly the reason we use the Japanese word), is a very dark movie with long, lingering shots of the destruction and the long term injuries he caused.
- Rule of Perception: In the end, the monster just shows up, practically on top of the protagonists in Central Park, yet no indication of its approach is given beforehand, like the fact that the ground quakes when it walks, and it tends to clumsily destroy the surrounding environment wherever it goes. Partly justified, since they're very disoriented after surviving a helicopter crash.
- Indeed, if you pay attention to the background as they are tending to Rob, you'll notice the remains of the helicopter (in particular a Rotor stuck in the ground) gradually shake more and more with Clover's approach.
- Scenery Gorn: The movie thrives and thrills itself on absolutely destroying New York City.
- Sequel Hook: Pointed out by Abrams himself, being that during the bridge crossing you can see another individual with a camera trying to record everything. Not so much a sequel hook as a possibility for Once More with Clarity.
- Shock Party: Escalated Up to Eleven: Rob's party turns into a monster invasion on Manhattan.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The reason everyone stayed in NYC was to help Rob save Beth. And then Beth and Rob get nuked. So much for that, then. Did I mention that everyone else is either dead or their fate is left uncertain?
- Short Lived Aerial Escape: Our heroes finally manage to get on an evacuation helicopter after their long ordeal. And then the monster whacks it out of the sky.
- Shout-Out: The music at the end especially, though during the blurring moments of the camera, they snuck in frames from Black and White monster movies King Kong, Them! and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. The film itself is inspired by Godzilla and other, similar B Movies.
- "Roar!" is one big shout out to the work Akira Ifukube did on the Godzilla films. The extensive use of brass was a signature part of his style, and it has been said that the piece is very Godzilla-esque.
- And then there's the blink-and-you-miss-it Dharma logo in the very, very beginning. Hm...
- Silent Credits: For a minute or two, at least, then the above music starts up. The credit song "Roar" has such a quiet build that it's barely audible till about a minute in.
- Six Student Clique: They're not really students but the characters do tend to fall into slots:
- The main character: Rob
- The Muscle: Jason
- The Quirk: Hud
- The Pretty One: Beth
- The Smart One: Lily
- The Wild One: Marlena
- Slipknot Ponytail: Lily's hair gradually comes out of its bun after the monster attacks.
- Smoke Shield: Clover waits just long enough to give the characters false hope.
- Spiritual Successor: The design for Clover has been reused a lot, including the creature from SUPER 8, an alien monster from Star Trek, Otachi from Pacific Rim, and the MUTO from Godzilla 2014. However, the last two are mainly similar for their stances, which are hunched over like Clover, and their arms, which are also similar to Clover's.
- The Stinger: "It's still alive."
- Super Cell Reception: Most people took issue with how one of the main characters could use his cell phone in the subway station. This, however, was a savvy case of Truth in Television, since the MTA is actively wiring subway platforms for cell service, specifically so riders can use their phones during emergencies. Indeed, after much of Manhattan had been smashed into oblivion, the subway station might be the only place where you can still get cellphone service.
- Tears of Blood: "Hud? I don't feel so good..."
- Together in Death: Rob and Beth (probably) die after professing their love for one another, in a military bombing aimed at the nearby monster.
- Too Dumb to Live: Some of the characters make irrational decisions.
- The Unreveal: You pretty much don't know any more about the monster at the end of the movie than you did at the start. Does it matter?
- Worst Aid
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: When they get into the helicopter and start flying away you almost think the movie is about done. Only for a very pissed off monster to attack the helicopter.