It’s been 15 years since Cloverfield descended upon movie theaters. The found footage alien invasion pic had an incredible ad campaign, shrouded in mystery, that helped make it the biggest-ever January opening weekend (at least until Ride Along six years later). In a way it’s always been shrouded in mystery. For one thing, what was, like, that giant E.T.’s deal? Why did it want to destroy New York City so much? Well, now we know why.
In a new interview with SyFy (in a bit caught by The AV Club), director Matt Reeves — who went on to helm two Planet of the Apes sequels and last year’s grim epic The Batman — was asked if he and his team had gone so far as to devise a “backstory” for the rampaging space monster. It doesn’t necessarily have to have one. It’s a space monster! Film history is lousy with stories of aliens invading Earth simply to vanquish it and no one bats an eye. Thing is, Reeves and team did give their beastie a backstory.
Saying they had to “figure how to direct the monster, so to speak,” Reeves said it was important to “understand what’s going on with them emotionally.” So here’s what he came up with:
“And for me, the big secret was that the monster was a baby and was experiencing separation anxiety. The reason the monster was freaking out is because they were having fits based on looking for their mother. And so, [the monster] was just as afraid as the main characters, because it seems like there would be nothing more terrifying than the human element fighting this giant monster element and, actually, both of them are just terrified. That’s a mess. That’s not good. So that part of it was absolutely something that we talked about in the development of the creature and in terms of how I shot it.”
Reeves was then asked, if it was a baby, was it even an alien or if it was “of this planet”:
“It’s alien. In fact, at the end of the movie, you can see the moment when it comes to [Earth]. It’s another one of those little Easter egg moments, but when we revisit that footage where they’re on the Ferris wheel at the end, you can see the meteor flying down and hitting the ocean. That’s actually the beginning of the baby being on Earth.”
So there you go. A big alien baby destroyed America’s greatest city, including Central Park, at least onscreen. It even killed Lizzy Caplan, before she got super famous. What a horrible baby. What’s more, it set an annoying precedent: Only four years later, the Avengers were fighting even more invading, non-baby aliens, who also laid waste to much of the Big Apple. But at least there they left a solid shawarma joint.