Cloverfield thrives on its feeling of chaos and confusion, but director Matt Reeves is finally giving some clarity to the monster.
Cloverfield, which has now hit its 15th anniversary, was not only one of the biggest found footage movies, making nearly $200 million worldwide on a production budget of $25 million, but it was also one of the biggest monster movies, period.
With a mystery-filled marketing campaign that shocked and horrified audience members, people were analysing the film’s potential monster before they had even seen the movie. And what a monster it was. A Kaiju-esque beast that destroyed New York City with its brute strength, size, and accompanying spider-parasites who’s salvia could make you explode.
But as the film is found footage, you don’t really get to see inside the monster’s psyche, leaving many to wonder what its motivations really were. Well wonder no longer, as the director of the film, Matt Reeves, has finally revealed what the monster’s backstory is.
Matt Reeves reveals that the Cloverfield monster is a “terrified” baby
In a recent interview with SyFy to celebrate the 15th anniversary, Reeves was asked about the monster and its backstory, to which he admitted that he had a definitive one: “For sure we did. Because you have to figure how to direct the monster, so to speak. So you have to understand what’s going on with them emotionally.
“And for me, the big secret was that the monster was a baby and was experiencing separation anxiety. The reason the monster was freaking out is because they were having fits based on looking for their mother. And so, [the monster] was just as afraid as the main characters, because it seems like there would be nothing more terrifying than the human element fighting this giant monster element and, actually, both of them are just terrified. That’s a mess. That’s not good. So that part of it was absolutely something that we talked about in the development of the creature and in terms of how I shot it.”
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When asked if the monster came from Earth or another planet, Reeves explained, “It’s alien. In fact, at the end of the movie, you can see the moment when it comes to [Earth]. It’s another one of those little Easter egg moments, but when we revisit that footage where they’re on the Ferris wheel at the end, you can see the meteor flying down and hitting the ocean. That’s actually the beginning of the baby being on Earth.”
The monster was also clearly based on post-9/11 fears, as the film dropped less than seven years after the event. Therefore, if Reeves were to do another Cloverfield film, based off the fears of a post-Covid world, he stated “There’s no question it would be a viral movie, right? It would be about a virus. The funny thing about making that movie, like I said, for me, it opened up the idea of making genre movies and specifically about exploring your own feelings about things. I had such anxiety that was related to…I mean, I still have such anxiety. I think I wouldn’t be a filmmaker if I didn’t have anxiety.
“Every movie that I’ve made is some sort of depiction of my internal anxiety … I think today, it would absolutely come from the uncertainty of what you can’t see and the idea that being next to someone, you could catch something. There have been some really scary [viral thrillers]. Contagion is certainly really scary … There would be a scary [Cloverfield] movie to do for sure about the spread of the virus.”
You can read about Reeve’s plans for a sequel here, and about existing plans for a Cloverfield sequel – separate to whatever Reeves is hinting at – here.