Saturday, March 12, 2016

Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Dan Trachtenberg's "10 Cloverfield Lane," a kind-of but not exactly sequel or spinoff to 2008's J.J. Abrams-produced "Cloverfield," is basically two movies in one, the first of which lasts approximately an hour and 20 minutes, while the second one only kicks in during the film's last 20 minutes.

I'm not going to give away what transpires in the last 20 minutes of the film - although you've likely already guessed when glancing upon the picture's title - nor am I going to be coy and evade the fact that this film, as Abrams himself puts it, "exists in the same universe" as the 2008 found footage thriller.

The picture's opening is reminiscent of Hitchcock's "Psycho" as a young woman named Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) packs up her belongings and flees what we later are given to believe is an abusive relationship. The opening sequence is tense, despite there being little in the way of story at this point, due to its combination of an eerie score and virtually dialogue-free scenes.

Michelle's car crashes and she wakes up to find herself with an IV in her arm and handcuffed to a bed in the bunker of a man named Howard (John Goodman), who may or may not be telling the truth about the apocalyptic event that took place outside the bunker during the time when she was unconscious, but who is obviously a tad disturbed.

The third person in the bunker is a young man named Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), a neighbor of Howard who lends some credence to his story, but not quite enough to be reassuring. Two-thirds of "10 Cloverfield Lane" involves the three characters attempting to learn to trust each other and becoming accustomed to life underground. Due to Goodman's committed and creepy performance and Winstead's solid leading work, most of the film is a taut and suspenseful viewing experience.

Inevitably, the action will eventually make its way outside the bunker and while there are some exciting and creepy moments to be found there, the picture gets a bit too literal in its final moments. Trachtenberg's film is much more effective when dealing with monsters of a more human nature than those of an otherworldly type.

That being said, "10 Cloverfield Lane" is a clever, fun and tightly contained thriller. Those expecting some sort of direct sequel or spinoff to "Cloverfield" may instead find something a little more low key and relying more on character than visual wizardry.

1 comment:

  1. This was such a tense thriller. I understand why some people didn't like the ending, but it didn't really bother me.

    - Zach