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Posted on September 6, 2016

Horror Imagery & Dread in Cloverfield (2008)


Within the context of traditional horror, the role of the hero/heroine is to defeat the threat the monster poses and return the narrative to normalcy. Certainly, the locus of the horror manifested in the monster is dependent upon the era in which a film is made. In the wake of 9/11, horror films underwent a metamorphosis in which the dread central to the horror film was permanently altered. In a return of horror tropes popular during the Cold War and Vietnam eras, slasher films and reflexive horror with pronounced elements of humor gave way to an apocalyptic horror now situated in realism courtesy of the nightly evening news. This move away from films such as Camp Blood (1999), Final Destination (2000) and Ginger Snaps (2000) and toward films such as Quarantine (2008), Hostel (2005), and Saw (2004) is pronounced and requires of the audience an intimate association with the terror being expressed.

Cloverfield (2008) straddles the line between horror and science fiction and creates a new breed of terror unique to post 9-11 audiences that speaks to this shift. Employing the same found footage technique seen in Ghostwatch (2002) and The Last Broadcast (1998), Cloverfield tells the story of a group of friends who attempt to survive the fallout when a monster lays waste to New York City. Although not a great film, Cloverfield is worth a watch both for its imagery as well as for its re-imagining of terror tropes.

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