Mark Kermode persuaded me to watch this via his Radio 5 programme with Simon Mayo. I knew the ending was going to be tough, the Empire magazine review hinted at as much as well, but nothing prepared me for what actually happened.
There is a lot to recommend this film for. It is imaginative, thought provoking, well shot and acted. The low budget does show sadly, but its dramatic weight does not rely on showy effects. Excellent use of the sound serves to engender far more tension and nerves than any of the recent Alien pictures.
The characters are on the whole realistic, the main protagonist, played very well by Thomas Jane, does not make the right decisions all the way though. He is guilty of hesitancy and misguided actions, but this makes it easier for us to relate to him. His son is also very well created as a human being, and Nathan Gamble brings him to life admirably.
A brief plot synopsis: a mist descends on a remote American town, trapping a (convenient) cross section of the population in a supermarket. Lurking within the mist are unknown creatures. Once the plot gets under way, it emerges that the real trouble lies within the building. Mrs. Carmody fires up the scared survivors with tales of firm and brimstone.
Sadly, we are force fed a political and social opinion. There is a moment when we are suddenly made clear what this is all a metaphor of - when we were fully aware anyway - through the use of a quite clichéd exchange. This unfortunately took the power from its social comment; didactic rather than provocative.
Mrs. Carmody is given far too much of the running time, and you start to grow a little tired of hearing her speak. If she had been played by Marcia Gay Harden with a little more restraint, the end product could have been much more enduring.
The last disappointing moment was the cop out explanation we are given near the end. It is such a shame the true source of the horrors had not remained as shrouded as the town outside the supermarket. For all its shortcomings, Cloverfield wisely left you wondering just how the creature got to New York.
I say, "the last disappointing moment", although you are already aware that the ending sucked the life from me, making my wife declare that I am never allowed to chose a DVD again. This was the conclusion that its director, Frank Darabont, fought so hard to keep. I respect him for staying true to the original Stephen King novella, but am still left with a horrible taste in my mouth.
If those issues I have mentioned were less prominent, I could forgive it the ending. As it is, I will return the DVD and vent my spleen to the staff member on duty in the Spar I rented it from! (I love the poster by the way...)