When news first surfaced that J.J. Abrams (Lost, Fringe, Cloverfield, Star Trek) had another project planned, and it was to be a monster movie, rumours flew around that it was to be a sequel/prequel to his previous monster film Cloverfield. He soon shot down those rumours claiming that this film was something else entirely. Not that I doubted J.J. for one second, but having watched the film, he was completely right.
Whilst there is a monster involved, and it does look like the creature in Cloverfield, we can tell straight away that this film has alot of heart, and a lot of potential, completely different from J.J's last monster outing. There is a substantial amount of character development, specifically focused on Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning's characters. We see how, and why Courtney's character is so tortured, and how he learns to overcome this obstacle. In several scenes it is quite obvious that Stephen Spielberg has had his input in the script and prodcution, with one scene in particular being similar to Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. This isn't necessarily a bad move, if slightly unoriginal.
There were a few elements of horror thrown into the mix, which I thought was a terrific technique, and there are several scenes which wouldn't have been out of place in a Wes Craven film. There is quite alot of comedy between the group of kids, which keeps the film fresh, but without losing it's pace at the same time. Its alot different from most monster/horror/thriller films that involve sour-faced adults and soldiers (although there are plenty of those)
J.J. Abrams has clearly learned a thing or two about suspense from his time on Lost. We do not see the monster fully until the second half of the film, a technique also used in Cloverfield. It's really effective, and you are constantly trying to visualise in your mind what the creature looks like. The ending is slightly cliche'd but won't disappoint. The film is brilliant, funny, tense and completely captivating.
Another great feature from J.J. Abrams, and slightly more family appropriate this time around.
Written By Eammon Jacobs