Cloverfield Monster's Identity Revealed!

So the big deal on the internet with Cloverfield right now revolves around figuring out what the hell the monster is going to look like. A noble endeavor that I myself admit to pursuing. I’ve scoured the web for countless hours trying to find any faint hint or clue related to the monster’s identity. The most I could find was this screen capture which appears to be some sort of early special effects test. Minor spoilers ahead!

Okay, so I haven't found anything yet. Well, neither have you, so stop crying about it. We must eagerly await some sort of official reveal together. To help pass the time, I thought it might be cool to talk about what we all hope Cloverfield is.

Now, I don't mean it in the literal sense of what the monster looks like. We'll find that out in due time regardless. As I mentioned in an earlier post that I want Cloverfield to be the next, great giant monster flick, I wasn't, however, especially clear on what that statement meant. Let's face it, in this day and age movies with scenes of mass destruction are common place. Exploding buildings and sinking ships can all be digitally inserted for pennies on the dollar. Simply creating the visuals of a giant monster tearing apart NYC isn't much of a challenge.

But making that scenario frightening is.

The best monster movies are those that tap into society's psyche, finds the pressing issues, and exploits the hell out of them. The best example of this is the original Godzilla film, Gojira. When released in Japan, the movie hit a nerve with audience members. Godzilla wasn't just about some guy in a rubber suit, it was a metaphor for nuclear energy and the atomic bomb. The scenes of destruction in the film brought to mind images of Hiroshima, still fresh in people's minds. The scenes involving make-shift hospitals where women and children were being treated for radiation burns were terrifying because it was real. These things really happened in Japan, and not all that long before the movie was made.

America needs this kind of monster movie. Hollywood too often settles for throwing eye candy up on the screen at the expense of real, raw emotions. Cloverfield has a chance to take the best of both worlds and combine them. I hope J.J. Abrams sees this opportunity and seizes it. The Cloverfield monster could be anything, a lion, a chimera, a griffon, whatever. It doesn’t matter. Just give the movie meaning. Let it hit a chord in this media over-saturated world where war is waged and good people die every day. Take a chance and hit a little too close to home. Make us feel uncomfortable.
Below is a list of ideas I’ve had about how the creature’s origins that tap into some real, modern day concerns:
  • The monster is created by runaway science, a creature born from the genetic manipulations of common life forms. We live in a world where science is beginning to blur the lines between that which is natural and synthetic. It’s only a matter of time before we’re able to create life from nothing, if it hasn’t been done already.
  • A mutation, or a familiar creature somehow changed by pollution. The green movement is huge these days. Everyone seems to be worried about Global Warming, Greenhouse gases, Carbon dioxide in the air and mercury in the water. Not to sound like an alarmist, but a lot of people out there worry about the irreversible changes we’ve made to the planet.
  • A natural creature, undiscovered until now. Maybe we’ve invaded its natural habitat or disturbed it in some other way. Maybe it’s an ancient animal that’s been hibernating for eons. The basic theme here is we’ve raped Mother Nature for so long that it’s time she had some revenge.
The problem I see with all of the above is they’re all been done a hundred times before. People may be scared of these ideas in real life, but in the movies they’re just bad clich├ęs. Perhaps story alone isn’t sufficient to scare us anymore. If so, use imagery to scare us. Use the CGI with purpose. Just like the radiation poisoning in Gojira reminded audiences of Hiroshima, show us a devastated NYC and remind us of 9/11. Let the trappings of the monster movie genre disguise it, but tap into those powerful, raw emotions. Bring us back to that day and make us feel what we felt then. It isn’t inappropriate, it’s cathartic.
Mr. Abrams, I challenge you to make a movie that people will talk about 50 years from now, not because of what the movie is, but because of what the movie represents. 
After all, that’s why we watch these types of movies. 
Isn’t it?

5 comments:

tmcgee said...

I'd say, the scariest monster movies are those in which the monster strikes at any time... especially during the day. It's expected during night scenes, but broad daylight attacks CAN be the scariest, if done right.

I do agree with the genetic/sciencey stuff being way overdone, but encroaching on a natural habitat, or disturbing something that's been dormant for millenia, not so overdone. I'd say something like that could give a good scare.

Wasn't Gojira dormant until the atomic bomb?

Maybe there's too much garbage being dumped, or the monster drains electricity from our massive power outage?

OR a monster that feeds on all the fatty foods (esp donuts) in the world!

Chris said...

I think the moment that science manipulation became a cliche was when Samuel L. Jackson got eaten by super-intelligent sharks in Deep Blue Sea.

As for disturbing the natural habitat being done in Godzilla, the answer is a hesitant yes, depending on which origin story you go with. Godzilla also does the draining our electricity thing, as long as it's energy generated via a nuclear power plant (See Gojira 1984).

The pollution monster was also done in the Godzilla series, he goes by the name Hedorah. More recently this type of monster origin was on display in the Korean monster mash that was The Host.

tmcgee said...

I do remember Godzilla draining electricity. I think I meant more along the lines of all types of energy we harvest (solar, nuclear, wind, etc etc etc)

I had forgotten about The Host being caused by pollution. That was an excellent film.
Hedorah, not so excellent, though a classic Gojira nonetheless.

I was thinking more along the lines of C.H.U.D. Originating from all types of trash, sewage, and icky stuff.

It seems that most, if not all, of the plot ideas that can strike a chord have been done already, and mostly by Japanese filmmakers.
Sadly, when most Americans try to duplicate the amazingness of these films, they fail miserably.

Chris said...

The problem isn't that these story ideas have already been done; the problem is we're completely desensitized to them when presented in a fictional context.

An old friend said...

THIS IS WHAT I AM SAYING.

Except, you're saying it much more eloquently. I guess that is why you have a blog and I don't.

Anyway, glad to see we are on the same page as usual.

Which leads me to ask, as a fan of horror and a fan of theatre, are you a lover of the grand guignol?

So what's your take on Sweeney Todd? You seen the movie yet? Seen the play? I know UConn did it a few years ago, although as an obsessive fan of Sondheim I must say I was not a fan of UConn's rendition.

Anyway, I'd love to know what you think. I'll save my rants on the matter for when/if you write an entry ;)