Monday, March 14, 2016

[Review] 10 Cloverfield Lane

Lets' get this out of the way: Aside from its title, 10 Cloverfield Lane is almost a completely different beast from its "predecessor" Cloverfield. The mock-doc style and nauseating shaky cam is tossed out the window (thank goodness), and it takes place in a single confinement instead of an entire sky-scraping city. And what we have here is a tense horror/sci-fi thriller that stands on its own.

After suffering an accident, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up locked in the cellar of a nuclear bunker. Enter Howard (John Goodman), an avid Doomsday prepper. He informs Michelle that there was an "attack" outside, the air isn't safe, and that he saved her life. But of course, Michelle (and we as the audience) can't be too sure about what's really going on yet. There's also another dude in the bunker--the modest but overly talkative Emmett (John Gallagher Jr., Short Term 12).

Props to the premise for immediately sparking a great amount of intrigue and sustaining it for a good length of time. The source of fear brews from the outside and within. If the apocalypse is indeed in-play, then what caused it and what's happening to the world? As far as we know, chemical warfare, zombies, aliens, and good old-fashioned monsters are all on the table. If the apocalypse is a lie, then Michelle is being held hostage by a creepy dude, not unlike Brie Larson's situation in the recent Oscar-contender Room. And even if Howard is correct about the apocalypse, he still can't be trusted. There's conflict everywhere, and the tension is incredibly thick in an already claustrophobic space.

Winstead and Goodman put on a couple of stellar performances, and the characterizations definitely make things interesting. Michelle is extremely resourceful given the circumstances (MacGyver would be envious), and very keen on attempting to unravel Howard's secrets. Goodman is scary good as Howard. He's all at once intimidating, insecure, possibly crazy, a wise survivalist, and even caring and highly sentimental at times. But just when it looks like these people might become a happy family, there's a subtle line of dialogue or a visual hint that sets the uneasiness back on high alert.

I've seen and heard many complaints about the film's last 10 minutes or so. Personally, I was okay with the choice, but I can't go much further into it. Can you tell that I'm trying not to give too much away?


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