J.J. Abrams’ Cloverfield is a movie near and dear to my heart. A big kaiju fan since I was a kid, seeing a giant monster movie shot through the lens of a handheld camera is something else back in the day. And the day word of a ‘blood relative’ was being made entitled 10 Cloverfield Lane came on my feed, I was understandably excited. And now just having come back from it, I can say that while it wasn’t quite the thing I was expecting, it was still a damned great film regardless.
10 Cloverfield Lane tells the story of Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who got in a car crash and wakes up in a doomsday shelter maintained by conspiracy nut Howard (John Goodman), who apparently locked himself in there with handyman Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.) following some kind of attack. And that’s just about all I can tell you of the plot without giving too much away. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a movie best experienced cold. It’s best to not know a thing about the movie, save from maybe the trailers. One thing that I can say is that shit goes down.
Without giving too much away, Dan Trachtenberg’s directorial debut is a rollercoaster. Mood whiplash is the name of the game here. Completely innocent mundane scenes can turn ugly in the blink of an eye, or something ominous might turn out just to be a completely normal everyday thing. You’d be jerked back and forth and sideways so many times you’d think you were riding a mechanical bull. How things can change seemingly at the drop of the hat also adds to the overall feeling of uneasiness and dread oozing all over the 103 minutes of its runtime. Anything can happen in the cramped confines of the bunker, and almost everything really does happen.
With such a small cast, everyone’s performances will expectedly be scrutinized even more, and every single member of the cast shines through. Winstead’s Michelle, while ostensibly being the victim here, shows constant flashes of brilliance, genre savvy, and cunning most movie heroes would kill to have. John Goodman’s Howard, the standout performer here, goes from the 0-60 and back again as the kindly dad-type who quickly melts down into a great big puddle of rage when the right buttons are pressed. Gallagher, Jr.’s Emmett might look like a liability or a redshirt at best from the start, but he manages to hang with the other two cast members and eventually might grow on you.
If you’re planning to watch this movie, do yourself a favor and try not to see any review or anything beyond the trailers. Hell, avoid the latest poster if you want to go in the movie completely cold. You’ll thank yourself if you do.
All in all, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a worthy thriller, filled with moments that’ll make your heart race and an atmosphere that’ll make you feel uneasy. Great performances all around, and it’ll keep you guessing until the end.