March 15, 2016 10 Cloverfield Lane (movie review)
When rumors began to fly about a sequel to Matt Reeves’ 2008 sleeper hit Cloverfield, fans scoured the internet for clues on the next J.J. Abrams Alien Invasion flick. What they found instead was info on a tense Drama called 10 Cloverfield Lane, a movie about a woman being run off the road and held against her will in an underground doomsday bunker. Could this film and the 2008 Sci-Fi Thriller be related?
Released March 11, 2016, 10 Cloverfield Lane was directed by debuting feature director Dan Trachtenberg (Kickin’ 2003, Portal: No Escape 2011) from a script written by Josh Campbell (Van Helsing 2004, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe 2005), Matthew Stuecken (Van Helsing 2004, G.I. Joe: the Rise of Cobra 2009), and Damien Chazelle (The Last Exorcism Part II 2013, Whiplash 2014). Lost‘s J.J. Abrams returned to produce, along with Morning Glory’s (2010) Lindsey Weber. Emmy winning special effects master Donnie Dean (American Horror Story TV series, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 2014) teamed up with Matt Kutcher (American Horror Story TV series, Scream TV series) and Mik Kastner (Ender’s Game 2013, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 2014) to create the endgame FX, while The Walking Dead’s Bear McCreary – an Emmy winner himself – composed the score. Filmed in Louisiana, 10 Cloverfield Lane stars Roseanne’s John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World 2010, The Thing 2011), and John Gallagher, Jr. (Pieces of April 2003, Short Term 12 2013).
The movie begins with Michelle (Winstead) taking off in her car after a fight with her boyfriend. She does not get far before she hears a radio broadcast about statewide blackouts, and, in her distraction, gets rear-ended and forced off the road, an accident that leaves her unconscious. She wakes up injured, locked in a bunker, and handcuffed to the wall with an IV in her arm. When the rather intimidating Howard (Goodman) brings her food, crutches, and a handcuff key, yet locks her back up in the room, Michelle freaks out and does everything in her power to get away, including sharpening the end of her crutch to use as a weapon. It is not until she breaks out of the room and meets handyman Emmett (Gallagher, Jr.) that she begins to question her capturers’ intentions. Both men tell her that there has been an attack – no one knows if it was man-made, biological, or alien in nature – and that the air is now deadly. As the attack was happening, Howard happened upon her crashed car and took her to the safety of his doomsday bunker, a shelter he built under his farmhouse that just happens to be fully stocked with supplies, is equipped with a generator, and has all of the comforts of home. Even though they may have to stay in there for years, Howard says he was willing to take her in with him and his handyman friend.
Michelle still questions the motives of the two men – that is until she is allowed to go to a surface window, where she sees two mutilated pigs in a pen outside. “The air did that,” says Howard. As she stares out, a car drives up. Thinking this is proof that Howard and Emmett are deluded and/or psychopathic, Michelle goes to open the sealed door to let the female driver in. But as she gets closer, Michelle can see that the woman’s face is melted and deformed, much like the pigs. This is the clincher. Michelle gives in and the three live in harmony for awhile. That is until Howard shows Michelle a picture of Megan, his daughter. When Emmett sees the same picture, he says it is of a girl his sister went to school with that went missing a few years before. Who is Howard? What does he really want with Michelle and Emmett? Is the air outside really dangerous?
A dark, stylish Psychological Thriller that will keep audiences guessing, 10 Cloverfield Lane gives viewers a treat they very rarely get – a strong female character that is not willing to lie down and die quietly. She fights back, and she fights back hard. Goodman plays the emotionally unstable Howard perfectly, never once slipping too far over the edge of sanity one way or another, obviously unbalanced yet somehow pitiable. Was this really a sequel to the 2008 film? Depends on how loosely one’s definition of sequel is. Although they both share the word “Cloverfield” in the title, there are very little similarities between the two movies.
Cloverfield was shot in Found Footage style, it was about the initial attack of Aliens in New York City, and the twenty-somethings who go on a mission to rescue a friend from the brutal, otherworldly attackers. Then there is 10 Cloverfield Lane, which was shot in the steadier third person style and has more of a psychological bend, trading in the obvious extraterrestrials for a monster much more human. Gone are the dark subways of the Big Apple, replaced with a cramped, Fallout style three room bunker. Both movies seem to take place concurrently, with the news of the Alien attack happening at the beginning of both films. If not for the shared word in the film title, one would be hard-pressed to find much of a link at all. That is, until the very final act. An unbalanced, claustrophobic Thriller, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a fantastic, well-written movie that is sure to please both Horror and Sci-Fi fans alike. CrypticRock gives 10 Cloverfield Lane 5 out of 5 stars.