10 Cloverfield Lane
Review by Paul Preston
The Movie Guys
The Year of People in Enclosed Spaces continues with “10 Cloverfield Lane”. In the shadow of “The Hateful Eight” putting us in the middle of a band of nefarious characters we’d rather not be around, this new film from Dan Trachtenberg utilizes even more mystery to create a suspense-filled escape film with growing stakes, claustrophobia and great performances.
With a score and a woman-on-the-run opening that reminded me of “Psycho”, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) finds herself in a car accident knocks her out. She awakens to find herself in the custody of Howard (John Goodman), who claims that the world is contaminated after a mysterious ‘attack’ of some kind (military, chemical, who knows?). But being chained to the wall of a windowless room doesn’t sit well with Michelle, who starts to plot an escape.
But she’s not the only guest, she co-habitates this survivalist bunker with not only Howard, but also Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.), a local who helped Howard build the bunker. This is all a great setup for a thriller, and Trachtenberg, along with writers Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken and Damien Chazelle start adding entertaining layer after layer from here. Just how unhinged is Howard? What’s really going on outside the bunker? And how far can Michelle push matters to find the truth?
John Goodman has been a fantastic actor for years, and you might forget how many legendary movies and Best Picture winners he’s appeared in – “Raising Arizona”, “Argo”, “The Artist”, “The Big Lebowski”, “Monsters, Inc.”, “Flight”, “Revenge of the Nerds”, I could go on. “10 Cloverfield Lane” is a fine showcase for the diversity of this excellent actor. He plays Howard as parts domineering, tragic and unpredictable. For a large man, he employs subtlety effectively.
Winstead and Gallagher, Jr. are equally impressive, sharing monologues that Trachtenberg doesn’t imbue with any fancy flashbacks or showy filmmaking. The actors bring it and the result is genuine. This film is loaded with quality names – Damien Chazelle wrote “Whiplash”, my favorite film of 2014, Drew Goddard (writer, “The Martian” and one of my favorite people doing anything) is on board as producer and the whole production is part of J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot slate. The sum of the efforts of all this talent makes for a wildly enjoyable movie.
Even when the film goes haywire at the end, the story continues to make sense, the plot points add up and you might be witnessing a hero’s origin story. And if you’ve been following the evolution of this movie from its secrecy to its surprise release, you can understand if I cut this review short. To say anything more would ruin the mystery. Go.
Release Date: March 11, 2016
Run Time: 103 Minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
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