14. Cloverfield (2008, Reeves)
Despite the recent binge of intelligent monster movies, there have always been smarter than average entries in the genre such as King Kong (1933) and Godzilla (1954). Not to mention another entry in this list that’s been previously noted, The Host (2006). Some have argued that Cloverfield is in fact a reflection of September 11, that horrific day when America was attacked and New York City was turned into a war zone, although not to the effect as showcased in the movie. I agree with them on that point, and its what makes Cloverfield an interesting horror/monster film and why I like monster movies: they echo our fears and paranoia about the unknown causing death and destruction upon our homes without warning. Some criticize the use of “Found Footage” style camerawork in this movie, but I like that style of film making especially in this case since it fits the chaotic and brutal nature of the creature’s attack on New York City, the reactions of a group of people that are the film’s main characters, and the military’s futile attempts to battle and deal with the monster. The first attack is particularly harrowing to watch, as the people at a party witness the early period of mayhem wrought by the great ugly beast.
Most of the film isn’t particularly scary, however the monster itself is pretty freaky and great to look at in terms of Lovecraftian design and style. With a bit of Godzilla mixed in for good measure, which is a nice touch. The tunnel scene however scared the hell out of me, largely because you cannot see what happens. You only hear the screams and the sounds of creepy crawly things going bump in the black, a dark nightmare that is really happening onscreen. Its a good thing I didn’t watch this movie in the theater, as I yelled several curse words while viewing that part of the movie at home. There is also the fact that this movie is completely serious, as past monster movies have needed to feature humor or be campy. Cloverfield is a near great film due to playing the material straight, and for being tragic and meaningful, putting the viewer in the middle of a truly bad day. For some, myself included, they recall a day of horror that we witnessed via the TV. For the unlucky others, though, they saw the events of 9-11 in person, just like the people in Cloverfield. I pity them.