What happens - and this isn't a spoiler - a disaster in present day New York: it gets recorded on a little video camera, by a complete idiot who doesn't really understand what is happening most of the time. We watch the footage, and try to reconstruct what was going on. The person operating the camera is emotionally insensitive - because films are emotionally insensitive. 'Don't film this Todd!' What are you thinking of, filming at a time like this?
I think this pretend artlessness was very artfully done. I expected to dislike the young urban types whose story we follow, but I thought they were good fun. I liked them all actually, and in some ways the first scene reminded me of The Office.
Here's that toddalcott who clued me onto No Country for Old Men:
There is one critic who opined: "Not for anyone over 30," and here, I think, is the rub. There is a generational split between people who "get" Cloverfield and those who do not. The ones who do not are not content to just say "Well, I didn't like it" or "It didn't work for me," they feel compelled to call the characters insipid and one-dimensional (they are not) and the script simplistic (simple it is, simplistic it is not) and the direction one-note and grating (which, I don't even know where to begin).
BTW that last obviously doesn't apply to everyone who didn't like it. I just think it's a little more artfully done, and more stylistically interesting, than to be dismissed as threadbare. It's a bit like stream of consciousness. The Story happens out there, your life happens in here, you construct the story from the clues in your experience.It's nice and short too.
Having said all that - and I think it was a successful film - it didn't utterly terrify me or exhaust me with emotion, which Blair Witch did.
ETA - oh yes, also, much less annoying than Lost.