10 Cloverfield Lane
Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.
Not a fan of the 2008, JJ Abrams produced “Cloverfield” movie. The “found footage” alien attack film, has been called a “blood relative” to the mysterious “10 Cloverfield Lane”. Filmed under secret names and only announced two months before it would hit theaters, secrecy was a priority for the film. Of course this type of marketing is genius, making fanboys and genrephiles more eager to unlock whatever puzzle it holds. While you won’t find any spoilers in this review, the movie does bank all its suspense on the unknown. This isn’t a large studio film reliant on special effects. Not only does longtime supporting actor John Goodman finally get an iconic and meaty role, but the synergy of two genres working both for and against each other make this a compelling thriller.
In an emotional break from her boyfriend, Michelle (Winstead) packs up and leaves home and relationship, headed towards the southern seaboard when she has an accident. When she wakes up, it isn’t in a hospital, but what looks like a dungeon, chained to the wall receiving fluids. Terrified at first, she then meets the man who brought her to the underground bunker. Retired military, turned paranoid Louisiana farmer, Howard (Goodman) has created quite a safe haven with food supplies, clean air and water to last years. The two are not alone, Howard’s hired local help Emmett (Gallagher), broke his arm trying to get inside the bunker when “the attack” happened.
It’s hard to find a genre film with a decent script and solid performances, but this one has it.
Whether or not this is a sequel to “Cloverfield”, whether or not it has aliens, zombies or psychos doesn’t make it good or bad. What works in “10 Cloverfield Lane” is how well it keeps the audience in the dark, even as it slowly releases clues and information. It’s hard to find a genre film with a decent script and solid performances, but this one has it. Goodman known mostly for scene stealing bit parts in Oscar winning pictures like “Argo” or “The Artist” is the real star of the film. The actor has lost about 100lbs since filming, but here uses his intimidating size, talent and tidbits from every minor role he has played to concoct a perplexing figure that’s runs catalog of confounding and conflicting emotions.
The script isn’t all chills and suspense, it has a few lighter moments to relieve the audience’s tension. The films third act will likely divide most viewers, which is why the early half is where you find most of the brilliance. Director Dan Trachtenberg embraces the ‘less is more concept’, perhaps not to the extent of superior psychological thrillers “Take Shelter” or “Z For Zachariah”, but still in the right direction. “10 Cloverfield Lane” feels like it was created with the same small budget and large creativity similar to “Ex Machina”. Despite the title association, this feels like an original concept that doesn’t need a franchise or sequel to make it noteworthy.
The fusion of two genres and John Goodman’s performance make this a captivating little thriller.