Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”

This low-budget horror film was subject to a massive wave of buzz before its release, which is somewhat unfounded given how very little was known about it before release. Now it has arrived and the very people who anticipated it seem disappointed, perhaps because it's merely good instead of truly great, but I think its perceived flaws are really its strengths. Some say that the obliteration of New York landmarks is an inappropriate reminder of 9/11, but I think it's about connecting us to the primary fear of our time like Godzilla once did (and didn't I Am Legend just destroy New York too?). Some say the horror elements are too predictable and clich├ęd, but I think the film's intention is to deconstruct them with a cinema-verite approach, treating them as real events happening to real people, to show how other movies have drained them of their power. And some say that the uneventful first act is too boring of a setup with undefined characters, but the sudden disruption of mundane daily life with the monumental is the point here; I'm reminded of no less than James Joyce, who made literary history writing about the profound intruding upon boring everyday lives, although he didn't have a giant monster.

Perhaps the problem really lies in what you want out of this movie. If you've seen horror-survival movies and you want a smart deconstruction of the genre by people who have also seen them, you're in for a good time. But if you expect more traditional pleasures like well-developed characters and attractive photography, this is Oscar season; go see something else.

− January 29, 2008 • more by Scottlog in or create an account to reply

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