10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
dir. Dan Trachtenberg
written by: Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, Damien Chazelle
starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.
3.5 out of 4 stars
Pseudo-sequels are the hot new thing this year. In a few weeks, Dazed and Confused finds the 80’s in Everybody Wants Some!! But first, we’re tackling a steady version of the found footage scifi flick Cloverfield with 10 Cloverfield Lane.
Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) awakes after a car accident to find herself chained in the doomsday bunker of creepy country man Howard (John Goodman). Wanting to leave, Howard and his neighbor Emmett (John Gallagher Jr) inform her there is no longer a world safe for her to find outside the thick steel doors. Unnerved by the unsettling behavior of the man she feels to be her captor, Michelle and Emmett seek to discover which is the bigger risk: braving the outside world or surviving the enclosed bunker.
Drastically different in style, the monster of this movie is terrifying in a far different manner. John Goodman highlights his career that never stops with a subtle unhinged man possessed by the art of survival and deception. Unsurprisingly, his character’s intentions are less than wholesome, but Goodman’s delivery provides the ample surprise in this film. One does not fully know where Howard will go next, a tribute to Goodman’s extensive experience. Working with the Coens all those years did not go to waste. Winstead additionally provides a hearty performance, ripe with existential dread and overwhelming fear. Not as unleashed as she is in Wasted, her performance stands homage to her continuously developing career.
Emerging director Dan Trachtenberg with action movie writer Josh Campbell and producer Matthew Stuecken screenwriting with Oscar-nominee Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) are to blame for my elevated pulse. Fooling the audience into a mundane existence underground, seemingly safe from the horrors supposed above ground, the viewer never expects when their story explodes, ripping the knob off the intensity meter. With the intensity absent in Room and steady camera work that distracted from this movie’s predecessor, we have found another example of sequel(ish) improving upon an original.story (concept?).
For those desiring horror, don’t worry: there are plenty of scares to be had. Writing this review is of course difficult without spoiling the many exceptional portions of this rather hard to define movie. Surprising, well crafted and eerie, 10 Cloverfield Lane expands on mythology produced from an unlikely source and provides a much desired star vehicle from the undervalued Goodman and Winstead. Watch for that finale and bring someone on whom you can clutch. It is ever so needed with such a desired finale.