run away, run away

I saw Cloverfield last night, and there were some excellent sequences in the film. However, I didn’t feel particularly close to any of the characters, and I think the film depends on the audience building a rapport with the people in peril quite quickly, especially since we’re in the thick of the action with them.

The central couple we’re supposed to care about – Rob and Beth – never excited much interest for me. The minor characters held my attention more: Jason, Hud, Lily, and Marlene in particular. Her character hinted at a lot of complexity, which was pretty good going considering this film clocks in at a Spartan 85 minutes (if only more films would follow this lead).

There were times when the running-cam wore rather thin for me. Yet, many of the scenes of tense action were great. The tunnel scene was particularly memorable. I also loved the design of the gigantic creature, and its hideous spawn, and the fact that we never know why they turn up. No one told me that the film was about an Old One hammering its way through New York – well, that’s what it looked like to me!

The ending is problematic. It fizzles out. I admire the director’s decision to finish it in a rather downbeat fashion, but there is an essential element missing. The audience has nothing to hang onto, nothing to carry with them afterwards.

Despite a couple of reservations I enjoyed the film, and would recommend that people see it in the cinema if at all possible. This is a film that makes a smashing impact on the big screen, and I doubt it will translate as well to your home system, no matter how big your television.

Tomorrow I start a six-day intensive Scene Analysis course, which is being taught by Beth Serlin, and organised by FÁS Screen Training Ireland. After nine months concentrating solely on prose I look forward to turning my attention back to screenwriting. I have a number of projects that I need to rewrite, so it will be great to be immersed in scriptwriting again. I’m a big believer in continuing education. It’s easy to become complacent about your skills. As you develop as a writer I think it’s beneficial to have regular spot-checks, where you seek other perspectives and insights to the process. Hopefully, the course will be enjoyable and informative.