Cloverfield

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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Cloverfield-poster.jpg

"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).

Opinions range on the quality of the movie: Some fans praise the unique storytelling format, and others decry some of the characters' actions, the jitter cam and the lack of explanation about where the monster came from. People who like the movie think that the lack of explanation is entirely logical, and more or less the entire point of the movie.

Note: 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.

Tropes used in Cloverfield include:
  • 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.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The entire film.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever
  • Behind the Black: Tanks sneak up on the camera. And eventually the creature itself.
  • Big Applesauce: Needs no explanation.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted - Lily is the only main character implied to have survived the disaster.
  • 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 atomic bomb Earthshattering Kaboom, it -- or at least the tape -- still survives.
  • Dada Ad: One of the hidden special features on the DVD is an ad for Slusho and... ye gods...
  • 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.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength According to the developers, the bridge attack was changed from a hand destroying the bridge because they wanted to imply that Clover was doing its damage to the city unintentionally.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Hud, despite being an idiot/dick in the first 10 minutes of the movie.
  • Downer Ending: Hud is gnawed on by Clover. No one survives the bombing of NYC. Neither does Clover -- or does it?
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. (And in case you're wondering, 力の手 literally means "hand of power".)
  • 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
  • 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. The ARG sheds light on a few others -- there's a girl slumped over on a couch at Rob's party who was fighting off the effects of 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 and seems to know a bit more about what's going on than anyone else.
  • 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: Lily tells Hud and Jason about Rob and Beth sleeping together and then makes them swear not to tell. Cut to Hud telling nearly everyone at the party about it.
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure: The Hammerdown protocol.
    • Overkilled! They used two nukes instead of one.
  • Jittercam: 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.
  • Kaiju
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Implied with the death of one of the characters.
  • 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: The whole film
  • Meaningful Name: Played straight with "Hud". Guess what his name puns off of. 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).
    • 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.
    • Greyshot was a proposed title to the film, named after the grey lines that show up when reel video is paused and the Greyshot Arch that Rob and Beth hide under at the end of the film.
  • Mind Screw: To the characters and the audience -- no one knows what's going on!
  • Mockumentary or Documentary Episode depending on your take.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: Inverted. The monster's a baby looking for his mommy.
  • Monumental Damage: The Statue of Liberty, if the commercials didn't clue you in. The Brooklyn Bridge gets smashed, too.
    • So does the Empire State Building.
  • 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 Tastes Like Diabetes between them.
  • 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.
  • 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 Zed 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.
  • One-Woman Wail: "Roar!", the theme playing over the credits.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Beth
  • 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. Not to mention thirst-saving, parasite-blocking Mountain Dew. Also, Hud's Nikes get an extended shot at the end.
  • Punny Name: Hud.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The ending.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Some people complained that there should be no cell reception in a subway. Sometimes there is.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • Additionally, some static after the credits that may be resolved into "It's still alive!".
    • Apparently, a sequel is in pre- Development Hell , as everyone involved wants to avert Its the Same So It Sucks
  • 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.
    • Mind you it's not actually silent. 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.
  • 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 Un-Reveal: You pretty much don't know any more about the monster at the end of the movie than you did at the start.
  • Worst Aid
  • X Meets Y: Godzilla meets The Blair Witch Project.
    • Or Godzilla with a 9/11 allegory instead of a Hiroshima allegory.
  • 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. Considering the beginning of the movie says "This tape was found in the area formerly known as Central Park," you knew something had to happen.