The title of the movie spawns from the Government codename, or "Case Designate" for the events depicted in the movie. At the start of the film a Government message appears, explaining this.
The movie is presented as digital hand-held camera footage found by the United States Department of Defense. At the start of the film, it is stated the camera was "found in US-447, area formerly known as Central Park". The main record of events is interspersed with footage of two main characters prior to the crisis.
On April 27 at 6:42 am, Rob Hawkins (Michael Stahl-David) awakens after spending the night with longtime platonic friend Beth (OdetteYutsman) in her father's Columbus circle apartment. They plan to visit Coney island for the day.
On May 22, Rob's brother Jason (MikeVogel) and his girlfriend Lily (JessicaLucas) prepare their apartment for Rob's farewell party, as he has accepted a job as a vice president in his company's office in Japan. Rob's best friend Hudson "Hud" Platt (T.J. Miller) is given a camera by Jason and the responsibility of recording final goodbyes from family and friends at the party, but instead unsuccessfully flirts with his crush, Marlena (LizzyCaplan). Beth arrives with a date, Travis (BenFeldman), which upsets Rob. To his dismay, he realizes Hud is taping over footage of him and Beth, including their trip to Coney island, which shows up intermittently throughout the film. Lily reveals Rob and Beth slept together several weeks previously, which Hud then shares with other people at the party, making the matter worse. Rob provokes Beth and her date into leaving the party.
While Hud and Jason try to talk to Rob, a brief blackout occurs, and the building shakes. When the power returns, everyone turns on the local news, where the anchor explains that there was an earthquake and an oil tanker has capsized in the bay off Lower Manhattan. Curious party goers and apartment dwellers go up to the roof to spot the disaster, where they witness an explosion in Lower Manhattan. As fire and debris begin to rain down, the party goers flee to the street below. The head of the Statue of Liberty, damaged and charred, crashes down into the street beside them. Hud is able to record a glimpse of what seems to be a giant monster moving through the city. The Woolworth building collapses in its wake, causing Rob, Jason, Hud and Lily to take refuge in a nearby convenience store while the creature passes. After the panic, the streets fall silent, and the group finds Marlena outside, shaken by the events. They decide to use the Brooklyn bridge to exit Lower Manhattan.
On the bridge, they see the capsized oil tanker and the headless Statue of Liberty. While walking across, Rob gets a cell phone call from a distressed Beth, who tells him that she is stuck in her apartment and unable to move. Hud calls out for Marlena and Lily, but Jason, unable to hear them clearly, does not stop walking. The bridge begins to shake as the monster's tail suddenly appears and crushes the bridge. They are chased by the collapsing bridge, many innocents are killed, including Jason. The bridge collapses finally and Hud films the destruction of the bridge and they retreat.
As Marlena tries to comfort the grieving Lily over the loss of her boyfriend, Hud approaches Rob, who is still stunned at what had just occurred. Suddenly remembering that his phone conversation with Beth had been interrupted, Rob stops at an electronic store that is being looted where he steals a cell phone battery and finishes listening to Beth's message. On the news, Hud sees the Brooklyn Bridge's full collapse as well as the military engaging the monster. The soldiers are attacked by parasitic spider-like creatures that fall off the monster. The four proceed to Manhattan streets to find Beth.
As the group makes their way to Beth's apartment, they are caught in a crossfire between the monster and the military. The friends barely manage to escape into the Spring street station. The group decides to walk through the tunnels to reach Beth's apartment. In the tunnels they are attacked by several parasites. One parasite grabs Hud and tries to drag him away, but Marlena fends it off with a pipe, only to be bitten by another parasite. The group escapes into the abandoned Bloomingdale's department store via the subway station, and are engaged by SeargentPryce and a squad of infantry, who has taken cover inside the department store and set up a field hospital and command center to treat the wounded. Marlena begins to bleed from her eyes and nose. When she is revealed to have been bitten, two men in hazmat suits grab Marlena and take her behind a curtain while Lily, Rob and Hud are taken away by soldiers. Hud films the curtains just in time to see Marlena's stomach expand and explode. Rob and the others have little time to grieve as Sergeant Pryce allows them back up to the streets, but warns them to report to a military evacuation site before 6:00 am, which is when the last helicopter evacuates Manhattan and the military will enact its "Hammerdownprotocal, which will allow for the sacrifice of Manhattan if necessary to kill the monster and its parasites.
The group continues to Beth's apartment, in the Time Warner Center, finding her tower partially collapsed into the adjacent tower. The three climb the standing tower and cross onto the roof of Beth's building and work their way down to her apartment. Beth is found trapped and impaled. After the rescue, they make their way to an aerial evacuation site and encounter the monster once more, while the military continues to attack it. At the landing zone, Lily is raced into a departing helicopter without her friends. A few moments later, Rob, Beth and Hud are taken away in a second helicopter. In the helicopter, they see the monster bombed by a stealth bomber and it appears to have been killed. Just as Hud begins hailing victory over the monster, it reaches up and attacks the helicopter. The helicopter crashes into a grassy clearing in Central Park. The next day, May 23, the three survive the crash and hear a voice on the helicopter's radio warning of the Hammerdown protocol being effected in fifteen minutes, with the pilot telling anyone listening that if they can hear the air raid sirens going off, then they're in the blast zone and have only two minutes to escape.
Hud and Beth pull an injured Rob clear of the wreckage, but Hud returns to recover the camera, and as he does so, the monster appears above him. It examines Hud for a few moments before attacking and killing him. Rob and Beth grab the still filming camera and take shelter under a bridge in Central Park as air raid sirens begin to blare in the distance, indicating that the Hammerdown protocol is about to be put into effect. Rob and Beth quickly take turns leaving their last testimonies on camera, just as numerous explosions occur outside and the monster can be heard screaming. The bridge collapses and, as debris covers the camera, Rob and Beth can be heard professing their love to one another before another explosion occurs.
The film cuts to Rob and Beth's Coney island date, during which a satellite can be faintly and briefly seen falling from the sky into the ocean.
During the end of the credits, a garbled radio sound clip can be heard. At first it appears that the audio reads "Help us", but when played backwards it is revealed to be actually "It's still alive".
The DVD was released on April 22, 2008 in two versions: the standard single-disc edition and an exclusive "steel-book" special edition that was sold at Suncoat and FYE retailers in the US and Future Shop in Canada. Other store exclusives: an exclusive bonus disc titled "T.J. Miller's Video Diary" with the DVD at all Best buy retailers, an exclusive mix CD titled "Rob's Goin' to Japan Party Mix" with the DVD at all Target and Walmart retailers and an exclusive ringtone with the DVD at all Kmart and Sears retailers.
The Region 4 DVD was released in New Zealand and Australia on May the 21st and 22nd 2008, respectively, in both a single-disc and 2-disc edition. The Region 2 DVD was later released on June 9, 2008, again in both single and double-disc editions. The limited steelbook edition will only be available from HMV, while Play.com offers exclusive cover artwork. The HMV-exclusive steelbook contains two discs.
The DVD includes two alternate endings, which vary only slightly. The first alternate ending shows Rob and Beth exiting the Coney Island–Stillwell Avenue station instead of on the Ferris wheel and features different sirens in the background as Rob talks to the camera. In the second alternate ending, just after the final explosion, Beth can be heard screaming "Rob!", followed by a very brief clip of an unknown person looking at the camera and brushing rubble off the lens. It turns out that Director Matt Reeves revealed that it was one of the crew members.
- Go to the Setup section of the DVD, select Español under Subtitle Options and click right to reveal a red helicopter icon where the Statue of Liberty's head should be. The video consists of several different takes of the cast and crew repeating the line "Rack 'em and pack 'em. We're phantoms in 15."
- Go to the Scene Selection and click on 9-12. Go to Scene 10, then click up to view the full subway Parasite attack with green "X" CGI place markers instead of the Parasites.
- Go to the Scene Selection area of the DVD, click on scenes 13-16 and wait for one minute, sixteen seconds. This results in a '17' appearing to the right of 13-16. Selecting the extra 'scene' takes you to Supplemental Features. Selecting the third link on the left gives the Channel 26 News Broadcast on the sinking of the Chuai Station oil platform. The fifth link on the left gives the main menu of the Slusho! website and the Slusho! TV advertisement. The third link on the right shows a list of the 11 video blogs from the Jamie Loves Teddy website, four of which (#2, 5, 9, 11) are view able.
- Near the end of the movie when the helicopter is crashing and the camera 'glitches' repeatedly there is a shot of King Kong from the original King Kong movie.
- When they get out of the convince store Hud rewinds it and a shot from Them! appers.
- When the characters emerge from the subway tunnel for the first time a Parasite atacks and a shot from The Beast from 20,000 Fanthoms can be seen.
Cloverfield In Popular MediaEdit
- Comedy Central's South Park featured a two-part episode mimicking the idea behind Cloverfield and the first person handycam story, except with giant furry guinea pigs instead of giant man-eating monsters.
- Cartoonnetwork's Madspoofed Cloverfield, renaming it Cliffordfield. Instead of the giant man-eating monster, it's a big red dog who wants to play, but destroys the city trying to. It showed a lot of similarities to the movie. It too is through the eyes of a camera. The beginning and ending parts are a lot alike, along with the parasites that bit Marlena Diamond (which are fleas that fell from Clifford and bit Jennette McCurdy), the Statue of Liberty's head falling off (except its a tennis ball), it is taped over another tape (Hermit's American Idol audition tape), and the beginning black screen with the message on it.