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Jerky camera moves too much to handle for some ‘Cloverfield’ viewers Monday, January 21, 2008 Canadian Press: Cassandra Szklarski

cloverfield-monsterTORONTO – The latest monster thriller to hit movie theatres is making some people queasy, but it has little to do with gore.

“Cloverfield” features the jerky shooting style of a hand-held movie camera and some audience members say it’s too much to bear. One Toronto blogger says more than a dozen people walked out of the screening he attended and that he spotted fresh vomit in the hallway leading out of the theatre.

“I can’t recommend this movie for anyone who isn’t into self-torture or hasn’t had a robust dose of Gravol,” the blogger, identified as “Allen” says at Guinevere.ca.

“Cloverfield gave me the worst motion sickness I’ve ever had,” a blogger named Almostzooey adds on Jezebel.com. “I thought I was going to vomit in the middle of the theatre.”

With obvious parallels to 9-11, “Cloverfield” is about a monster who terrorizes New York City and a group of friends that catch the mayhem on a camcorder. The film has drawn largely favourable reviews so far, with its champions defending the cinema-verite style as integral to the storytelling.

The shooting style is similar in feel to 1999’s “The Blair Witch Project,” featuring shaky views of panicked characters and bouncing shots of the ground when the beast sends them running for their lives.

Movie critic Richard Crouse said filmgoers seated next to him grumbled throughout the screening. He called the camera movement so erratic that “it makes ‘The Blair Witch Project’ look like it was shot on a Steadicam by Ansel Adams.”

Still, Crouse lauded the technique for lending a strong sense of realism and intensity and for evoking the shaky news footage that dominated coverage of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

Cineplex Odeon said Monday that it anticipated the herky-jerky motion could rub some people the wrong way. It posted signs at its theatres warning viewers that the camera work could cause side-effects associated with motion sickness similar to riding a roller-coaster.

Spokeswoman Georgia Sourtzis said the warnings are “a courtesy” to audience members and that anyone upset by the film can seek a refund. Complaints must be lodged before the film has ended and would be assessed on a case-by-case basis, she said.

Sourtzis had heard of a few complaints at one theatre, but didn’t have an overall picture on what moviegoers across the country felt of the “Cloverfield” camerawork.

“Some people were uncomfortable with the filming technique and it did cause them some uneasiness,” she said of one theatre in Burlington, Ont.

“Blair Witch,” also a Cineplex release, elicited complaints of dizziness and nausea when it was released.

Fans of “Cloverfield” say the shaky style is not that bad.

“It’s no different than riding in a car,” Craig Fulford said Monday after buying a ticket to “Cloverfield” for his second viewing.

Fulford said the wild views are central to the plot.

“It wouldn’t have made sense otherwise,” he said. “They’re supposed to be recovering a tape after this disaster. If someone’s filming with a Handycam it’s … going to come out like that. And you’re running around the city and it’s blowing up, it’s going to be totally herky-jerky like that.”

Crouse said he actually found the more extreme swinging motions to be beautiful.

“When you have these incredible visuals of this guy running and all you see is … shafts of light and a blurry image on the screen from his hand moving back and forth but you’re hearing the sounds of these people running and the swish of the air as it rubs up against the microphone on the camera, it’s pretty intense,” he said.

“That whole thing kind of all comes together. It quite literally had me on the edge of my seat and I see 400 movies a year.”

© The Canadian Press, 2008

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