As far as found footage films go, I place 2008’s Cloverfield in the upper echelon of what has become an over saturated sub genre. It was a great depiction of a giant monster attack in Manhattan and effectively puts the viewer in the thick of it all via the first person camera work and keeps the monster in mystery by only glimpses of it throughout until the finale. The film was a success and while there were certainly those who didn’t care for it’s shaky cam aesthetic, many fans were hoping for a sequel that would explain a bit more of the monsters origins, despite the movies modest success, it never happened, probably for the better.
Though you can certainly scour the internet for tons of fan theories about the creature based on info cultivated from the various viral sites associated with the film. Still time passed and everyone seemed to move on, until that is a few weeks ago when out of the blue we were greeted with a trailer for a film that surprisingly revealed it’s title as “CLOVERFIELD” then adding the “10” and “Lane” to it. So a new Cloverfield film was coming, starring John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead no less. The project was shrouded in secrecy just like the previous film and the questions began to arise on just how it was related to the first film, if at all. Will we answer that here? Kind of, so read on anyway!
10 Cloverfield Lane tells the story of 3 people Howard, Michelle and Emmet, taking refuge in a below ground bunker together from an above ground catastrophe. Howard (John Goodman) the owner of the bunker , brought Michelle (Winstead) there just before event following a car accident in which she was injured and unconscious. Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) was already there when she awakens. Howard explains to her she cannot go above ground as the air is dangerous following an unidentified attack. From there the inhabitants in the bunker begin to get to know each other and that is when things get extremely interesting. Michelle questions Howard’s motives and if he is actually telling the truth about the above ground attack that led them to living in this bunker, while Emmett is just happy to be in there and alive, however, as time passes, the layers to these multifaceted characters are revealed little by little, and each actor brings their best here. The acting being top notch is highly important to a film where you spend much of it’s duration in one claustrophobic setting with the three characters. John Goodman in particular is fantastic as the the troubled Howard, he is as sympathetic as he is frightening. It’s a superb performance and easily one of Goodman’s best. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is also really good here as Michelle who’s suspicions drive the story forward and helps bring more depth to the somewhat lesser character of Emmett, who still has some great scenes and moments within.
For 10 Cloverfield Lane, the name of the game is suspense. The dynamics between the three leads and the claustrophobic location help to build a great deal of tension. Through much of the films running time you are on the edge of your seat waiting for the other shoe to drop. There are plenty of stressful moments throughout thanks to the steady direction from first time director Dan Trachtenberg. He keeps the visuals interesting thanks to a great use of composition and production design. The mystery of whats going on and who can be trusted is a big part of the films appeal and I in no way shape or form want to ruin that for any of you. I can say that the movie makes you question which is actually better to be locked in the “safe” bunker or take your chance with whatever the hell is supposedly outside said bunker. That however is something you all will have to decide on for yourself. As for the question on if or how is the film connected to the original Cloverfield? That is in my opinion up to the viewer to find out and decide. I can also say it works just fine as a stand alone film as well.
10 Cloverfield Lane is a highly suspenseful, slow burn of a film featuring great acting and direction. Go in (as you always should) knowing as little as possible and you will most certainly come out feeling like you have been put through the ringer in the best way possible. Let the mystery play out and see the film as it was intended to be seen. The filmmakers went through quite some effort to keep everything secret so that the films buildup and payoff are worth it. Those looking for the action of the original Cloverfield film may be disappointed but I can confidently recommend this film to everyone that has even the slightest interest in it. It is a better film than it’s spiritual predecessor and if you have the patience to let the story unfold, you will be rewarded with a great film.