Cloverfield (US, 2008)

American liberty has lost its head.

It’s taken 10 years for Blair Witch (1999) to get a proper sequel. Whilst Cloverfield is not as effective as its predecessor, it is a fascinating take on a (western) world at war on terror. It’s not just the camcorder aesthetic that is so effective, much of what is happening is left ‘unsaid’. Or, rather, requires us to draw on other films to fill in the gaps. This isn’t simply postmodern referentiality; we don’t know, for instance, what happens to Marlena but the Alien splatter reference suggests it ain’t good. This also links to a piece of ‘thrown away’ dialogue: ‘they are trying to drag me away’. Putting the Alien ref together with the dialogue suggests that humans are being used to gestate there creatures; and you can only work this out through the references. The film will make sense without knowledge of these films, but it is interesting to see a movie built explicity on its generic inheritance.

The Korean film The Host (Gwoemul, 2006) is also an important antecedant, as is 28 Days Later (UK, 2002).

The film portrays American post-9/11 vulnerability: there’s terrible things out there with no explanation for what’s happening. In doing so it offers a picture of a paranoid mindset that’s turning inward rather trying to understand what’s going on (I saw a trailer for the forthcoming The Mist yesterday – looks very similar).

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