Cloverfield Review and How the Web was Won // Goodbye to Heath Ledger


1st of all - let me address those nay-sayers that keep comparing CLOVERFIELD to THE HOST. Stop it darn it! It just doesn't make any sense except that they both have a monster in them. The monsters hardly compare in size, and the stories are only similar in one plot point (the rescue of someone close to the main character). Producer JJ Abrams, the director Matt Reeves and writer Drew Goddard were trying to conceive of a "Monster Movie" told from the perspective of people rather than a gods-eye view so to speak. The film succeeded in doing this, and with great intensity... almost to the point of being a disturbing film. The thing that really makes this film stellar is the fact that you can check it out as just a Monster Movie, or you can dig further into the internet hype and find out more than you could ever want in a background story.

The premise of the film is simple enough - a group of friends gather for a going-away party for their close friend Rob whom just accepted a job in Japan. Rob is also in love with another party-goer, Lily. During the party we see some small character development then BOOM! The party, and the audience is thrown into the action of a giant monster attacking the city. Told entirely from the shaky amateur perspective of Hudson aka "Hud's" handheld camera that was meant to be taking party testimonials, the story does not stop of one heart-racing moment. Only 1 hour and 24 minutes long, with the set-up taking roughly 20 minutes before the monster makes his first appearance, it is not drawn out nor does it slow down enough to let you catch your breath. I found myself tense for about an hour afterwards as the adrenaline still rushed through my veins.

Stories of motion sickness are grossly overrated (http://www.horror-movies.ca/horror_10437.html). NYPD BLUE, the BOURNE films, etc were also touted as "too shaky" but in reality this just makes the film more "real" as I see it. The monster is interesting as are the "flea"-like creatures that drop from the beast and create havoc of their own. Not enough Monster for you? Was there not enough World War II in CASABLANCA for you? The Monster is simply a back-drop for a killer premise; at the heart of this is a love story of survival, not the monster. Lily and Rob share an intimate time about a month before the party that is also documented (using the same tape to show the "date" between Rob and Lily is both a smart way of showing "flashbacks" as well as further solidifying the relationship between the 2 characters. Rob's heart-to-heart conversation on camera with his brother and Hud (the camerman) also give you more insight into just how much Rob cares for Lily.

I have not wanted to see another movie in the theater again more than I am anticipating seeing this one. The darkness and uber-sound systems of the theater perfectly lend themselves to an in-depth movie experience. The other idea of "how long could a handheld camera battery last?" - well the movie is set in real-time, there are many breaks in the recording, so the camera would be turned off at those moments. A camera battery can last 1 hour and 24 minutes if turned on and off.

But while I want to continue to sing CLOVERFIELD's praises, the real star was the internet saturation that led up to the opening of this film. In a word - brilliant. Let me break it down for ya, BRICKTHROWER style!
7.12.07 - my first column about CLOVERFIELD is published, go here for the early news:

After this column was posted, news quieted down for awhile.
Then there came the talk of SLUSHO, after intense investigation of the trailer showed a person wearing a Slusho t-shirt. The SLUSHO web site is still active(http://www.slusho.jp/), as is the number to help promote SLUSHO products, which I called just a couple days ago. More on that later.

Slusho was first mentioned in another JJ ABRAMS project, TV's ALIAS, and was expanded to be a division of the TAGRUATO Corporation(www.tagruato.jp), a company dedicated to some unspecified ocean research.

About a month ago, TV trailers started popping up, including a new look at the monster. CTHULU-like creature myths were dispelled, in favor of a mutant blue whale instead.

Then enter "T.I.D.O. Wave," (http://www.tidowave.com) a eco-activist (terrorist?) group whose soul target was the evil Tagruato Corporation . Tagruato's web site indicated that TIDOWave not only hacked their web site, but had done even more elaborate damage about a week before the film CLOVERFIELD was set to release.

A fake newscast circulated the internet (http://www.break.com/index/leaked-scene-from-cloverfield.html), showing a Tagruato Ocean Rig (the Chuai Station) being utterly demolished and sinking into the sea. Tagruato publicly blamed TIDOWave , although an unknown dark spot can be seen underneath the rig as it is sinking, as well as cell phone footage from inside the rig broadcasting a rather monstrous-sounding roar.

This rig was located off the coast of Connecticut. And come Friday, the release of the movie, trying to access both Tagruato's and TIDOWave's web sites proved fruitless. Tagruato had one simple page with Japanese (which I can't read) and a Danger "!" sign while TIDOWave's site shows only a unreadable unclickable ghost of the former page, with a "INTERNAL AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT" stamp in-layed on top of it. What does all this mean? Well if we look at this in real time - that damn monster hit the US shores on 1-18-08 and the day after the "goverment" shut down the parties involved.

Checking SLUSHO's web site again, it is still up and running, and reading the "ABOUT" section gives you even further info into the secret ingredient of the drink and the mention of a deep sea product that gives Slusho its special energy (addiction?). Calling the number on the site only led me to a recording, 1st in Japanese, then in English, reporting on the situation of the Chuai Rig disaster. Listen for yourself @ TEL# +01181354036318

Want to see the effect of SLUSHO - check out this site:

PASSWORD: jllovesth

Another blog of interest: http://tagruato.blogspot.com/

Now how's that for using the Web right to promote your movie? I say - TEH AWESOME! While several sites are still up and running and offer plenty of valuable information in regards to CLOVERFIELD and its background story on where the monster came from. My final thought - SLUSHO / Tagruato was mining the ocean floors for their "energy" product which unleashed the monster that attacked NYC. Check out the sites for yourself and make your call...but remember the post-credit message that is barely audible but just as haunting:

"It's still alive."
And finally, I just wanted to mention the tragic news that Australian Heath Ledger was found dead yesterday, at the (magic) age of 28. Whether it be an accidental overdose or god forbid, a suicide, my sadness remains the same. An actor who was definitely well-respected and on his way to the top, too soon to befell such a tragedy. He will be missed and it makes his turn as the Joker in the upcoming THE DARK KNIGHT even more poignant. RIP HEATH LEDGER.
ANOTHER SPECIAL THANKS to M. Sean McManus, whose research and edits really helped this piece come together.
~Till Next Time Kittlings.

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