“Found footage” is a shooting style for movies that was pioneered in the late 90’s. “Found Footage” is a cinematic tool that can help the audience feel like a fly on the wall, bringing them into the story almost as a character, when done correctly. Though this style is generally used in horror movies like The Blair Witch Project and the Paranormal Activity franchise, films like Chronicle and End of Watch are great examples of how this shooting style can give an enhanced dramatic perspective. One film so far has been able to tap into the possibility of alternative reality.
In 2008 J.J. Abrams’, Bad Robot, production company released their 2nd film as a company; Cloverfield. Early trailers of the movie left us wondering what the hell was this. Godzilla? King Kong again? Fact is. No one really knew. At the same time Bad Robot and Paramount (the main studio backing the movie) started a ARG promo alongside the standard marketing. An ARG is an Alternate Reality Game. In a nutshell, and ARG serves as the overlapping area of two circles on a venn diagram. The alternate reality on one side and our, real (?), reality on the other.
In the case of Cloverfield ARG reality, a whole backstory was explored as to what happened on that fateful night in NYC. The Matt Reeves directed film picks up from the day of the attack. The story follows a group of friends trying to make it through the wreckage of a war zone to get another friend who is stuck in her apartment alone. Throughout the film each obstacle the cast faced felt like a boss battle in a video game. Which felt like a great nod to the community who followed the ARG. While its a great watch, there are loads of predictable plot drivers in the film. The love story is a bit forced, but Reeves uses masterful storytelling craftsmanship to use it as thread to hold the broader fabrics of information together.
By the end of the film, as the problem with most “found footage” movies, the audience was split on how they felt. “Oh thats it?” yells one side. “How could it have ended?” rebuttals the other. In a twisted way, thats the brilliance of the film and its alternative marketing. Following the clues from the beginning gave you more insight and brought you closer to the world, but no ultimately made you no more prepared for the end.
If it is the end.
In March of 2016 10 Cloverfield Lane is scheduled to release. This film isnt a ‘“found footage” movie, nor is it a “sequel” to Cloverfield, but it is a “blood relative”. There are alot of quotation marks here because J.J. Abrams is a man who is a stickler for secrecy. As well as the fact that the promotion for 10 Cloverfield Lane is also kicking up with ARG promotion.
Where will this expanding universe take us? Hopefully not to Central Park at 6:42 in the morning.