A leaving party for New Yorker Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David) is rudely interrupted by an unwelcome guest, something that has a penchant for smashing up skyscrapers, playing football with the Statue of Liberty's head and hand-picking humans as snacks. Rob and a small band of friends pick their way across Manhattan's devastated streets to rescue trapped Beth (Odette Annable), but how long can they survive?
Backed by an impressive viral campaign and mammoth mass promotion, the weight of expectation on Cloverfield's scaly shoulders was huge. But, bucking the trend of many blockbusters, it doesn't disappoint. Rookie director Matt Reeves shoots the carnage from the ground up, applying the shaky-cam practices of Blair Witch to the sheer spectacle of monster movie mayhem.
After the shortest of introductions to our protagonists - a likeable bunch of twenty-somethings who are required to do little more than run and scream - the relentless roller coaster ride begins and never lets up. Reeves also makes the wise move of leaving the stomping something as an unexplained and unfathomable force.
Pure moviemaking magic, Cloverfield is a visceral experience, filled to the brim with moments that trigger explosions of goosebumps and cause the hairs at the back of your neck to stand on end.