Horrific half-glimpses of the subway

I haven’t seen Cloverfield yet. I plan to. But it’s my understanding that the monster in Cloverfield isn’t Cthulhu, though there was some wishful thinking in that direction when the first trailer came out.

I wish it had been, though. Part of what’s compelling about Lovecraft’s narrative voice is that he only gives half-glimpses of the terror he’s describing. Even in a story like At the Mountains of Madness, where you get full paragraphs of description of the shoggoth that chases the narrator and Danforth out of the ruined city (including an old skool Boston T Red Line reference – 617 souljaz reprazent!), he still manages merely to tantalize.

Partly for that reason, Lovecraft’s stories have been pretty much untranslatable to film. (Partly. Another reason is that the few attempts to put Lovecraft on film have been… conservatively funded.) The narration was too important to the ambiance of the story. The aforementioned tantalization depends on just that little white spot of illumination among the purple prose.

Cloverfield appears to be filmed in the style of Blair Witch: the idea is that all the footage was captured on camcorders, and has now been run together into a complete story. And by Christ, it strikes me, that’s the cinematic equivalent of the Lovecraftian narrative voice. A Cthulhu movie filmed entirely with shaky cameras, providing glimpses of horror that only stay in the frame long enough to frustrate the viewer, until they come back again into the frame, only for another moment, would be perfect.

At least to me. But that ain’t what Cloverfield is, it appears. Which means that the ship for camcorder-style giant monster movies has probably sailed, and it didn’t spear Cthulhu in the breadbasket on its way out of port.