10 Cloverfield Lane Movie Review

Saturday, May 7, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
Soon after leaving her fiancé Michelle is involved in a car accident. She awakens to find herself sharing an underground bunker with Howard and Emmett. Has she been saved from an apocalyptical event as Howard & Emmett tell her or are there other motives for her being held against her will?

10 Cloverfield Lane Movie Review

Great claustrophobic story with fine performances... and a twist

Full disclosure: The year is 2007. A trailer hits cinema screens advertising a mysterious film named "Cloverfield." Nobody knows what it's about, except that it's riding on the wave of the found footage genre, and that it seems to depict a giant monster attack on New York. Speculation immediately breaks out all over the internet, but nowhere more fiercely than on the IMDb forums, with many folks being caught up in the genius viral marketing. I myself was one of those people, along with my wife. Yes, we met on IMDb's Cloverfield forum. She moved from the US to Australia a few years after, we got married, and we've lived together happily ever since.

10 Cloverfield Lane Movie Review

Yes, that is the power of film; it can bring people together in the most unlikely ways possible.

So, it's with some excitement that we were blindsided by the brief and vague advertising campaign for 10 Cloverfield Lane. Does it have any connections to the original Cloverfield? What's JJ Abrams playing at here, exactly? Without giving too much away, it's not a direct sequel, but rather a sequel in tone. I'm assuming Abrams is going for an anthology style series here, with each entry being a different story tied together by their themes and science-fiction setting. It's clearly a marketing thing, but if that means we'll get more films like this, I'm certainly okay with it.

10 Cloverfield Lane eschews its predecessor's found-footage trappings, and immerses us in a classic style bottle thriller. The setting is limited and claustrophobic, and the cast small, but the story and tension will grab you and not let up until the end. The nature of the mystery means your opinion will hang very precariously on whether you like that ending, and I suspect it will be divisive. There's not a great deal of resolution, and if I'm correct in assuming this will be an anthology series from now on, I doubt we'll ever get any. But that's fine, because I don't think the story that would follow the film really needs to be told.

What matters are the performances. John Goodman is the real draw card here. He gives a stunning turn that is delightful, sympathetic andabsolutely terrifying in equal doses. He's had so many great roles in the past, but he is unforgettable here. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is also very likable as the resourceful protagonist. Perhaps a little too resourceful at times, but for the most part we're with her happily throughout.

The film looks fantastic despite the cramped environs, with great use of color and shadow and some interesting cinematography. There are some nice designs and special effects toward the end of the film, even if they may be considered a little derivative. The score is tense and effective, and keeps you on the edge of your seat.

In my opinion, the script is great with very little flab, and if you like these kinds of stories which lock characters together in tight, paranoid spaces then you'll find a lot to enjoy here. Just don't go in expecting Cloverfield 2, because this is not it. It's its own beast, and has a brave ending that you'll either love or hate.

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