Yeah, I know, an old one, and if you're tired of hearing about it, I won't hold it against you if you don't read this review. Much. No, really. Go ahead and ignore me.
I've managed to stay fairly clean of spoilers, so other than the previews and trailers during commercial breaks, I didn't really know what to expect other than shaky camera and a lot of running. I liked it. The party scene went on almost longer than it needed to, and I was starting to get bored with it to the point where when they finally got out on the fire-escape and I recognized the setting from the trailer, I was relived, but I liked it. I don't think it was the best movie in the world, and I don't think it's even the best thing that JJA has had his hands on, but I liked the idea and it was a fresh voice in the glut of monster / apocalypse movies that I do so love and have probably seen far too many of. The frame story that this was found after the fact and is classified government info added a neat edge of conspiracy.
The monster was not like anything I've ever seen, and that meant that even when they were showing it-- earlier and with more clarity then I'd thought to get-- none of it made any sense to me, and that was great. If it's an alien, there's no reason it would make sense. And the parasites were almost scarier than the monster-- they were on a human scale, able to attack directly, and made it almost impossible to hide. I think the scenes in the subway tunnels were some of the best, and that that's what similar scenes in 28 Weeks Later should have been like. And that bleeding-eye body-asplody that happened from the bites? Unexpected and really gross. The characters were nicely human, scared, jabbering stupidly and latching on to random parts of what was happening, like you do in traumatic situations, blindly heroic because that's really all you can be like that-- better to die doing something then alone and hiding, right? And the random flashes of that one perfect day before everything went to hell pretty much accomplised the whole juxtaposition thing. It was real enough to get my brain going along those 'what would I do in this situation?' pathways, and that's really harder to accomplish than a plain gutteral fight or flight reaction. Adrenaline is mindless, but this managed to get inside my head and creep me out, though in the end it was more suspenseful then scary.
Don't read the Wikipedia page before hand, and really, don't read it after, either. The backstory somehow manages to make it less cool and more stupid.
There's talk of a sequel, and that makes me nervous. The only way I think it would be interesting would be if it was the same story from a radically different angle-- there were thousands of people in the City, and someone else must have recorded it (or several someones-- it'd be cool to see the thing from, say, five different angles, all different, all with differing goals, spliced together to give us a clearer look at the event). Other then that, something post-apocalyptic, the clean-up and dealing with the parasites might be neat, but I think it would be a different movie, a different subgenre. There was talk that this was a juvenile, and if it's not dead, as the credits seem to hint, a full adult might bring down the whole world-- and the concept art looks interestingly cthulu-esque, but if there's no way to stop it, it'll be harder to make the story anything but hopeless and depressing. A second Cloverfield will have to be more interesting to get out of the shadows of the first and to justify it's own existence, or it might as well not even happen.