At some point in the past few months I’d thought about doing a rewatch of Cloverfield, the 2008 “found footage” monster movie from Drew Goddard and Matt Reeves. Then I forgot about it. Yesterday, I spotted on The Daily Beast that Wednesday was the fifteenth anniversary of its release.
I’ve always liked this movie, and always had the sense that I liked it more than did other people I knew, and I’d been disappointed by the follow-ons that inexplicably tried to ride the coattails of the original. The “blood relative” anthology thing never worked for me. There’s a direct, actual sequel coming, apparently. As far as I know it isn’t Matt Reeves’ idea from this Syfy interview, which would at least have a shot at being worthwhile. I’m deeply skeptical, in part because of what I realized this week.
Upon this latest rewatch, my first in maybe ten years, I realize now that I actually consider Cloverfield to be a perfect movie. Straddling the line between big budget spectacle and simple street-level terror—and, to its benefit, staying mostly on the latter side of that line—it’s one of the most ruthlessly efficient ninety minutes (less, actually) I’ve ever watched.
That last part is tricky, I guess? This week I resurrected a Letterboxd list I’d once maintained of movies on my watchlist that are ninety minutes or less. I did so after watching Steven Soderberg’s Kimi, which I enjoyed but which felt much longer to me than its 89-minute runtime. Cloverfield, on the other hand, despite my having seen it more than once before, somehow took me by surprise when we approached its climax.
More surprising is that even now the movie only rates a 78% critic score and a 68% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. How is this possible? I refuse even to go see what’s responsible for those scores. It does exactly what it sets out to do, and is exactly what it says it is.
It’s a perfect movie. Almost a Platonic ideal. All the Slusho in the world couldn’t convince me otherwise.