Hollywood has a knack for making our worst fears come true. Whether it is a serial killer on the loose or a demon out for blood, movies give us plenty of reasons not to fall asleep at night. While we’ve seen a lot of splatter horror films lately, there’s been a progression away from the traditional monster movie. “Godzilla” and the likes have disappeared from theaters for a long while. However, producer and movie mogul J.J. Abrams decided to capitalize on this absence by creating Hollywood’s first monster movie in years, “Cloverfield.” Directed by novice Matt Reeves, “Cloverfield” tells the story of five friends and the night that changed their lives. Rob Hawkins’ (Michael Stahl-David) life seems to be getting on track. Recently offered a VP position at a Japanese drink chain called Slusho, Rob is planning on going to Japan for a fresh start. However, by taking this job, he’s leaving behind the girl he’s in love with, Beth McIntyre (Odette Yustman). On the night before his departure, Rob’s friends throw him a huge going-away party in his New York City loft. Just when the party begins to get good, a huge earthquake is felt around the city. In the blink of an eye, all hell breaks loose; a huge oil tanker explodes in the New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty gets beheaded, and the Woolworth building collapses in a cloud of debris and dust. A strange monster of unknown origins is attacking the city and people are dying left and right. While trying to escape the city by way of the Brooklyn Bridge, Rob gets a call from Beth saying she’s stuck in her apartment. In an act of either chivalry or extreme stupidity, Rob and his friends decide to head into Midtown to rescue Beth. Recorded on a handheld camera, “Cloverfield” is the documentation of the destruction of New York City and Rob’s dangerous journey to save Beth. “Cloverfield” certainly has created a lot of viral buzz. J.J. Abrams’ ingenious marketing ploys left people guessing for months as to what exactly was destroying America’s iconic city. Now that it has hit theaters with the biggest January opening weekend ever, it’s time to see if “Cloverfield” lives up to everyone’s hype. It seems to be the case that the most frightening things come from our own imaginations. While “Cloverfield” doesn’t keep you in the dark as to what the monster looks like, a large portion of the film makes you guess as to what exactly is happening in NYC. Frightening things are occurring and the moment the Statue of Liberty’s head flies into the streets, an overarching sense of dread takes hold of the audience. Despite the knowledge that an unknown monster is attacking the city, you can’t help but draw parallels to a terrorist attack. We see icons we know and love crumble with ease, and this is by far the scariest thing about “Cloverfield”. Truthfully, you don’t care about whether or not Rob and his friends live. You care that our buildings can fall and while it might seem trite that it takes an imaginary monster to remind you of that, it’s where “Cloverfield” draws its suspense. If it was set in a city you didn’t recognize, it wouldn’t nearly be as effective. The entire beginning of the film documents the mundane lives of characters you don’t really care about in an increasingly mundane fashion. In fact, it isn’t until about 15 minutes into the movie that anything interesting begins to happen. While the slow start is somewhat annoying, it does serve a purpose. By showing you the lives of these seemingly normal people, it makes the whole film seem more realistic. Using unknown actors gave the sense that this could happen to anyone, which, in turn, adds to the suspense. “Cloverfield’s” early success in the box-office comes from the fact that it was filmed to appeal to the YouTube generation; in fact, the entire movie was shot on a handheld camera. The whole thing seemed as if your everyday co-worker was capturing this catastrophe on a whim. While it gives this film a very cool, authentic feel, it can lead to a few issues. The shaky camera can be very disorientating, sometimes even causing motion sickness. Quite a few people in my theater had to get up and go outside to get rid of the headaches that this kind of filming can cause. The techniques used undoubtedly added to the entire experience, but it’s important to note that it can make some people feel dizzy and even nauseous. While watching blurry images shake on the screen, you also have to listen to some pretty bad lines. It’s fair to say that nobody’s going to see “Cloverfield” for its script. Its lines are contrived and often clichéd. But, this really isn’t the focus of the film, anyway. It’s all about the action, and the script certainly takes a back seat. While the lines were few, it would have been nice if a bit more time and money was spent on refining them. In the end, “Cloverfield” boils down to a hardcore suspense film. While the shots are shaky and the lines are undeniably bad at parts, the overall sense of dread it arouses is thoroughly entertaining. Sure, “Cloverfield” won’t be winning any Golden Globes, but that doesn’t make it a bad movie. Grab some friends and try and check out “Cloverfield” on the big screen. It’ll probably be some of the most fun you’ll have at the movies for a while. Grade: 5-