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Posted at 10:15 AM ET, 01/17/2008

A 'Cloverfield' Q&A

By Jen Chaney

After soaking up months of Internet chatter about "Cloverfield," the J.J. Abrams-produced monster movie for the YouTube generation -- the flick is finally here. You can see it starting tonight, around the midnight hour.

Given all the mystery surrounding this release -- What's it really about? Is it related to "Lost"? If it is related to "Lost," will it somehow explain the weird Orchid orientation video shown last year at Comic-Con? -- you probably have some questions. Without giving away too much information or revealing major spoilers, I present this Q&A to help you prepare for the "Cloverfield" experience (hint: take a Tylenol before the lights go down).

What the heck is this movie about?

Pretty much what the trailer suggests: Attractive 20-somethings gather for a farewell party, which gets interrupted when a monster rips off the head of the Statue of Liberty and wreaks havoc on Manhattan. Chaos -- captured through a shaky handheld camera -- ensues.

Do we ever get to see the monster?
Yes. Personally, I think the movie is most effective -- as was its most obvious antecedent, "The Blair Witch Project" -- when it merely suggests the beast, rather than showing us the whole thing. But almost a decade after Heather, Josh and Mike disappeared in Burkittsville, we have become a culture that demands a money shot. So don't worry: You'll get it.

I have heard that the camerawork is shaky. Will I develop a case of oopsy-tummy?
It's possible. Let me put this way: "The Blair Witch Project" looks like it was shot with a Steadicam by comparison. The camera is not only unstable, but it often tilts sideways and flails around wildly, all adding to the sense that this was "really" shot in an "actual" emergency situation. A security guard at last night's screening said that three audience members at a Tuesday night preview in Tysons Corner had to exit the theater because they felt like they might barf. I only saw one cluster of departures last night (and they may have had other reasons for leaving ... like the realization that "Project Runway" was about to start). Still, I pride myself on my movie-going nerves of steel, and even I experienced some queasiness for a while after the movie ended.

Is this the most awesome cinematic achievement of the year, one that will reinvent the concept of modern horror as we know it?
Well, no. But "Cloverfield" is certainly clever and a visceral experience that kept me entertained throughout its 85-minute running time. (Twelve minutes of that runnng time, by the way, consists of the closing credits. This may be the first time I've seen a movie where almost 15 percent of its content consists of a scrolling list of names). But despite the genius of J.J. Abrams, I am not sure it's going to inspire a rash of imitators.

So, since it was written by a "Lost" writer and produced by Bad Robot, the same production company responsible for "Lost," are there any hidden clues about the show embedded in "Cloverfield"?
Yes. In a key scene, Sawyer randomly shows up and announces that it was Jin in the casket during last season's finale.

Ha. That's funny.
Seriously, is there anything about "Lost" in the movie?

Okay, seriously. Other than the connections you mentioned, as well as a contribution from "Lost" composer Michael Giacchino and a brief appearance by actor Chris Mulkey, also seen in the "Lost" episode "Further Instructions," I didn't see much to link the two. And believe me, I was looking.

Last question: What the hell does "Cloverfield" mean?
As far as I can tell, nothing. Based on this interview with director Matt Reeves, the title is a pseudo-riff on a street near Abrams's former office. But obviously the title has been purposely left open to interpretation and, as a result, dissected to death on the Internet. Undoubtedly, as audiences finally see "Cloverfield" for themselves, we can expect more wild theories and cockamamie commentary on the Web in the coming days.

By Jen Chaney  | January 17, 2008; 10:15 AM ET
Categories:  Movies  
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Comments

at the end of the movie when they r at cony island.does the monster come out of the sky n splash into the ocean?

Posted by: wangsta | January 29, 2008 8:29 AM | Report abuse

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