Film trailers are the single most important tool in the movie marketing business. Over the years the creation of movie trailers has been honed to a fine art and the right assortment of music, images and star power can be a powerful promotional tool. Cloverfield, a new monster movie from Lost producer JJ Abrams turned convention on its head recently with a teaser trailer that didn’t feature big stars or music, just one striking image.
There’s a party. Outside you hear a loud thump. Lights flicker and everyone rushes outside just I time for the head of The Statue of Liberty, torn from its body, to skid to a halt in from to them. Fade to black. No music, no title, nothing except a mind-bender of an image that knocked you back in your seat.
Not since The Blair Witch Project has a trailer stirred up so much anticipation. The only question that remains is: Can the movie top the trailer? Happily the answer is yes, but with reservations.
Cloverfield—the name is the US government code for the “incident” in which a mysterious creature destroyed NYC—is a curious mix of the production value of America’s Funniest Home Videos, (but without the crotch shots) and Godzilla. A movie shot entirely through the lens of a home video camera, complete with bad shot composition and shaky hand held cinematography.
If frenetic camera work is not your cup of tea then Cloverfield will not be for you. The occasionally nausea inducing visuals make the former jiggly-camera record holder, The Blair Witch Project look like it was shot by Ansel Adams on a steadi-cam. Having said that, for those willing to go along for the ride the intensity and immediacy of the images will leave you breathless.
As something—I’m not telling you what, not knowing in advance is part of the fun of the movie—lays waste to the Big Apple many of the scenes echo the well-known news footage of 9/11. Massive white clouds of dust billow out of buildings while sheets of paper eerily float to the ground, expelled from the skeletons of giant skyscrapers. These familiar images coupled with the immediacy of the home video footage give the film a realistic and horrifying feel.
Cloverfield takes elements from horror films as diverse as The Blair Witch Project, The Host and Godzilla and, in an economical 75 minutes, binds them together to create something new, fresh and really powerful.
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