Point of audition: sound and music in Cloverfield

Document Type


Publication details

Coyle, R 2010, 'Point of audition: sound and music in Cloverfield', Science Fiction Film and Television, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 217-238.

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Peer Reviewed



Cloverfield (Reeves US 2008) employs an amateur hand-held-camera styled conceit to narrate a love story centred on young people caught up in an alien attack on New York. The monstrous creature's seemingly inexplicable arrival (accompanied by parasitic spiders) echoes the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US while also intertextually building on a significant history of monster, disaster and sf films. This article investigates how sound and music activate genre identification, narrative features, emotional engagement and marketing operations for the film. Constructed around footage apparently shot by the central protagonists on their home recorder (digicam), the film sound track mostly adheres to this narrative. However, as the analysis shows, the sound is notable for the way it is highly crafted and contrived to be cinematically affective while appearing to be merely sonically 'documenting' the action and events. The article draws on Rick Altman's model of sound in film to demonstrate how the sound track effectively extends the film's 'point of view' with an elaborated 'point-of-audition' sound design.

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