10 Cloverfield Lane review
In a lot of ways, J.J. Abrams has become something of a modern day Steven Spielberg. He likes to produce stories with action that are surrounded in mystery. Given how the marketing campaigns for the Star Trek, Lost TV series and the recent Star Wars film gave away very little during the previews, I almost forgot that earlier Spielberg movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Indiana Jones all sold us on the idea that we know what were getting, yet there was something else that we were not seeing. A hidden villain, a hidden prize, or a hand reaching into the unknown, stuff like this will certainly draw people into the story further.
One such film of his was the found footage monster movie, Cloverfield. Rather then putting the focus on the monster, the focus was on the people and their horror as the city of New York was now the playground to some space creature. Believe it or not, the original Godzilla also had a similar focus was that was all about the horrors of the Hiroshima bombing. While Cloverfield wasn’t a great movie, it did help boast the popularity of monster movies again. We…kind of return to the same world with the long awaited sequel, 10 Cloverfield Lane.
Rather then a found footage movie, this is shot more like a traditional film.
We open with Michelle (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who’s leaving her apartment in New Orleans to head up north. She senses the feeling that she’s being watched at a gas station, but she continues further down the road. After a brief phone call from her boyfriend, she gets into a car crash, leaving her unconscious.
She wakes up sometime later in a room with no windows and chained to the wall. After nearly setting a fire as a means of escape, she then meets local farm boy Emmett (played by John Gallagher, Jr) and the maker of the bunker their currently in, Howard (played by John Goodman). Howard tries to explain that while he rescued Michelle, there was some sort of an attack on all the major cities and that the outside air in contaminated, but she doesn’t believe him. She tries at one point to escape, but see’s an older woman with burns on her face, suggesting that Howard may have been right. The three adjust to a life within the underground bunker, but Michelle still senses something may be up.
In terms of it’s connection to the first movie, you could say that this is a totally different movie, yet this still qualifies as a monster movie. It’s a kind of monster that you’d find in another horror movie, but I don’t want to give anything away. With the majority of the movie being set in the bunker, 10 Cloverfield Lane takes full advantage of it’s claustrophobic environment, making for a tense thriller. The film creates something that feels homely, yet tight in the bigger moments that require wishful thinking.
The acting is phenomenal. Mary Elizabeth Winstead has only had a few supporting roles in Live Free or Die Hard and Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, but she shows a lot of rage from her performance, going from frightened of her surroundings, to looking for right way out. John Goodman is an actor who we’ve seen for a while, but has unfairly not had a chance to play a role that is as big as this. Much of 10 Cloverfield Lane centers around the role-play between the two and how much they can out smart and dominate each other.
Fans of the original may be put off by the sudden change in tone and even genre. But what’s making the Cloverfield franchise fascinating is how little we know about the creatures that are attacking the Earth. Maybe Cloverfield 3 can give us some more clues.
I’ll give this four and a half puzzle pieces out of five. From the producer mind of J.J. Abrams, comes a compelling thriller that seems to be a small part of a bigger story in a good way. 10 Cloverfield Lane is the rare sequel that manages to out do the original.