Genre: Horror, Sci-fi
Film Rating: PG 13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)*
*additional content may not be rated
Most people are classifying this J.J. Abrams-produced monster movie as a science-fiction film with reality TV sensibilities (we're made to believe that we're watching a video tape shot by a small group of Manhattanites fleeing the titular beast), but I'm more inclined to put it squarely in the category of horror.
You'll have terrifying flashbacks to 9/11 as the 30-story-tall creature knocks down skyscrapers and floods streets with dust and debris. Its deafening roars and thumping claws will shake you to the edge of your seat. And I defy you to stifle a yelp of dread the first time you see one of the colossus' spider-like parasites viciously attack a running civilian.
Part of the reason it works so well as a horror film is its claustrophobic atmosphere. The situation is epic, but the scale is small; it's a story about a group of friends who aren't fighting the monster or searching for answers to its origin, but rather simply trying to survive it. Criticisms have been leveled at the abilities of the film's unknown cast, but aside from a few unlikely bits of comic relief on behalf of primary camcorder operator Hudson Platt (played by T.J. Miller, who is better known as a comedian than an actor), I found the stars' reactions to the horror surrounding them to be satisfyingly authentic.
The special features include a pair of alternate endings, one of which is a sliver more optimistic than the theatrical finale. There are also several deleted scenes, but they provide little additional insight into the characters or story. The most interesting elements found within the bonus material actually come from the making-of featurettes, which offer some surprising information about the creature, such as the revelation that it's supposedly an infant -- which makes one shudder to imagine a full grown adult.
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