Manhattan is under attack again -- making it possibly the most assaulted borough in the country.
But before the terror unfolds, a group of friends gather in a New York City loft apartment to have drinks and wish Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David) farewell. The up-and-coming executive has just accepted a vice-presidency position in Japan and is about to leave the country. With a video camera in hand, Hud Platt (T.J. Miller) hesitantly agrees to film the evening's events. Making his way around the room, he records good-byes and best wishes from Rob's brother Jason (Mike Vogel), Lily Ford (Jessica Lucas) and a host of other partygoers.
A temporary blackout followed by flying, fiery debris is the first indication the celebration is about to end. Rushing out of the building, the guests are nearly hit by the decapitated head of the Statue of Liberty that lands unceremoniously on their avenue. Thick, white clouds of smoke and rubble (reminiscent of scenes from September 11) billow down the streets as skyscrapers crumble to the ground. Somewhere in the distance, a moaning, slithering force rips through the town.
Within moments first responders are on the scene, overstepping dead bodies to gather up the severely injured. Descending upon the neighborhood with tanks and armored vehicles, the military dispatches fatigue-wearing soldiers to evacuate the area. But when Rob receives a call for help from his friend Beth (Odette Yustman), he's quick to turn back. Accompanied by Lily, Hud and another partygoer Marlena (Lizzy Caplin), Rob stumbles through subway tunnels filled with rats and past burning wreckage to the devastated district of town where Beth is pinned to the floor of her apartment.
Blood-splattered walls, gory wounds, spider-like beasts that gorge themselves on human beings and constant profanities may make parents queasy about taking their kids to this film that is told from an up-close-and-personal angle. Shooting the entire film through a handheld camera, audiences are privy to the city's destruction from primarily Hud's perspective. Yet it's those wildly swinging, stomach-churning shots that also become the film's greatest drawback, leaving many audience members yearning for a strong dose of motion sickness medicine.
While Cloverfield doesn't pretend to be anything more than a popcorn flick, the film's execution saps all the fun out of this monster script. And although the movie is thankfully short, no one should have to pay good money to feel this nauseous.