The home video approach was introduced by the technically but not narratively creative filmmaking team of Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez with The Blair Witch Project. Nine years later, the same fidgety first-person tactic is adapted to the monster movie, and has - not surprisingly - many of the same strengths and weaknesses. Bearing in mind the clever marketing of this movie, there is little doubt that the purpose is to evoke as realistic a feeling as possible in the viewer, and I grant that the initial effect is of an immediate and seemingly authentic and documentary feel. The dialogue between the youngsters is believable and largely fresh, and there is some offhand humour in here as well that only very rarely come off as tawdry stand-up punch-lines (which counts for something in this sub-genre). But little by little, the camerawork will inevitably be exhaustive and work against its purpose; it keeps the characters and the situations at a distance. Perhaps the reason people go to the movies instead of watch their neighbours home videos is that there is a difference in emotional impact with these two kinds of narrative techniques. I must admit I felt the same way with The Blair Witch Project.
The attack on the city of New York and the events that subsequently unfolds is impressively well handled and executed. The action is Cloverfield's by far best asset, and there are some outright electrifying scenes. Of course, there is never a monster movie without an all too familiar-looking monster, and the same can be said of characters showing such uniformly selfishness that I'm surprised Mother Theresa wasn't American, but the suspense never lets up - and that's a tribute to the director. I neither think nor hope that the Cloverfield-approach will become predominant in filmmaking, but if nothing else, it is refreshing to experience new angles. Even if this one is stolen from nine years ago.