10 Cloverfield Lane
Out Now On-Demand
Monsters come in many forms.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr. (TV's Newsroom) lead this follow-up to Cloverfield. No longer in found-footage, this "blood relative" to the 2008 sci-fi thriller is set in a bomb shelter. Co-written by the creator of Whiplash and directed by Dan Trachtenberg, known for his impressive fan-film Portal: No Escape.
- Dan Trachtenberg(feature debut)
Action, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller
Rating: M Violence & content that may disturb
When a surprise teaser trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane turned up a few months ago, it set tongues wagging about what connection it would have to 2008’s monster romp Cloverfield. Producer JJ Abrams declared it a “spiritual successor”, but while Cloverfield spanned a good deal of New York as it was torn apart by an alien beast, its Louisiana-set namesake traffics in claustrophobia.
Shortly into proceedings, Mary Elizabeth Winstead awakes after a car accident to find herself in John Goodman’s bunker, where she tries to process his news that the world outside is ending. What transpires is a terrific, compact thriller with yet another great performance from Goodman (equal parts terrifying and amusing), and an equally good one from Winstead, our focal point as we wrestle along with her about what is actually going on outside the bunker, and inside Goodman’s head.
The film plays coy right up until the end, and it’s obvious why they’ve kept details scarce. It’s the type of film best seen fresh, as its main pleasures come from that increasingly rare feeling of genuinely not knowing what’s going to happen.
10 Cloverfield Lane feels much shorter than its 2 hour run time, thanks to first-time director Dan Trachtenberg’s economic storytelling, and a cracking script co-written by Whiplash writer-director Damien Chazelle (originally set to direct, until Whiplash was greenlit). There’s a real Twilight Zone vibe to it, and if Abrams and co intend this as part two in an ongoing series, we should hope we don’t have to wait another eight years for the next one.
Rolling Stone (USA)
Total Film (UK)
Time Out New York
Brilliant thriller in first half but ends as an incoherent and unforgivable mess.
Many movie lovers will leave this film with a dilemma swirling in their mind: can a poorly conceived and poorly directed ending be ignored while you hang on to the memory of the brilliant film that almost was? In cinema, the answer is usually no because we remember a film backwards via the way the story ended. The ending is also the key to how we read a film and how we apply genre codes to make sense of cinematic storytelling. This film traverses three totally different but often compatible genres: the psychological thriller, the horror/gore, and the science fantasy, in that order. Note that the last one is not the same as science fiction, a respectable genre that creatively draws on the logic of science. The film 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) starts brilliantly as a thriller, drops a gear or two as horror, and then has an inexcusable brain-snap as mediocre science fantasy.
The linear plotline opens with soon-to-be-married Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) walking out on her fiancé only to drive straight into a horrific car crash. She wakes up chained inside a bunker and is held captive by Howard (John Goodman), a doomsday prophet who built the sealed underground structure in anticipation of a major global event. He eventually convinces her that the outside world is now a post-apocalyptic and uninhabitable mess. His neighbour Emmett (John Gallagher) is the only other actor and becomes a confidante for Michelle, but not for long. For the first three-quarters of the film, tension builds then slowly flattens while Michelle becomes accepting of her plight in a claustrophobic space with all the comforts of home. When Howard’s temper shifts into horror and gore mode, Michelle takes flight only to stumble into a B-grade science fantasy set created with last century computer graphics. Everything this film achieves in terms of emotional tension, doubt, confusion, and of course, unbridled fear…then goes up in a puff a smoke.
John Goodman’s imposing girth, menacing bluster and steely gaze entertainingly convey total terror with enough glimpses of ‘Mr nice-guy’ to create confusion. For the most part Mary Elizabeth Winstead ably reflects vulnerability, disbelief and fear, although she settles into domesticity rather too easily. The early unfolding story sustains a level of plausibility, even when Howard starts going weird. The real thrill in this film, however, is watching it crash and burn in the last twenty minutes as it runs out of ideas and takes a bad turn in the hope that the applause of science fantasy fans will drown out the boos of thriller fans. But neither group wins as the ending transforms this film into an incoherent and unforgivable mess.
The Less You Know The Better
Minor spoilers ahead...
Not only had I managed to avoid all spoilers, but I had also pretty much forgotten nearly everything I knew about the original Cloverfield (apart from the sneaking suspicion that I had actually enjoyed the antics of that film’s videotaping idiots more before the monster arrived. Yeah, Cloverfield wasn’t that great, was it…?). So all up I was pretty well-placed to watch 10 Cloverfield Lane as a small-scale, baggage-free, stand-alone thriller - in the end, I’d say that’s definitely the best way to go into it.
Essentially what you’ve got (for the most part) is a low-budget but expertly crafted slow-burn suspenser made with just enough Hollywood slickness to keep it from venturing into the territory of the genuinely uncomfortable. The reason that it stays so gripping throughout is twofold. The writing is whip-smart, managing to be blackly funny (great games night), often unpredictable, and with good instincts about when to drop in the occasional hoary thriller cliche for maximum effect. And the performances are top-notch - John Goodman seems to be getting all the plaudits, but the movie stands or falls on Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who takes the tired and potentially thankless role of tank-topped victim and turns it into a movie-star vehicle through sheer force of will - she completely owns this thing from first frame to last.
The final act isn’t going to be to everybody’s taste, but despite the fact that the subject matter might seem like a major departure from what went before it, the playful tone and moderately deranged energy are all of apiece. True, the tension evaporates long before the credits roll, but I was still having plenty of fun and would have been happy to stick around for another twenty minutes just to see what shenanigans Winstead’s Michelle got into next. Overall, super popcorn entertainment.
Only a few tense moments and found it a bit boring between them. John Goodman performed well but didn't find there was sufficient misdirection around to get you thinking along one track when the answer was something altogether. The ending was just so unbelievable to make it laughable.
Outstanding Directorial Debut
Phenomenal direction. Sensational performances. Nail biting and cavity clenching tension. A batshit crazy 3rd act. An excellent throwback to 50s and 60s shows and films such as The Twilight Zone. 10 Cloverfield Lane absolutely blew me away and needs to be seen by everyone. Also, if you live near a true IMAX theatre, go see it there, it's worth it.
A mysterious premise involving a possible nuclear fallout and taking shelter in a strange man's (John Goodman) bunker results in a very tense string of events that entertains. Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) who serves up a strong performance as Michelle
10 Cloverfield Lane
10 Cloverfield Lane is a well executed thriller, I liked it. John Goodman is amazing, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is also really good. I won't spoil anything, but I enjoyed the suspense and tension building of the story more than the action spectacle towards the end, but that's just me. Good movie, I'd recommend it. Grade: B+
Brendan de Vere
The Lane of no Return.
Found footage monster thriller, 'Cloverfield', came out in 2008 to mixed reviews. Its shaky, raw camera footage generated a sense of realism that was supposed to create an authentic atmosphere, giving the audience the feeling of witnessing something that actually happened. The whole spectacle worked well but lacked cohesion and purpose that affected the overall impact. I for one was left a little confused about what was happening, possibly mimicking the emotions of the young actors that appeared in the film. '10 Cloverfield Lane' has been promoted as a distant cousin of this Gen Y original piece but what we have here is a return to a more traditional thriller that works its magic very well. '10 Cloverfield Lane' keeps you guessing all the way through the 103 minutes of running time setting itself in a more personal and private situation that creates a considerably greater atmosphere of anxiety than its blood relative.
Young Directorial debutant, Dan Trachtenburg has been given his shot at impressing the big boys at Paramount Pictures and he hasn't done his reputation any harm. Backed up by Executive Producer, J.J. Abrams Bad Robot Production Company and young Danny is ticking all the right boxes in front of some very powerful Hollywood heavyweights. His niche seems to be the suspenseful situation of the thriller and with a first time production such as '10 Cloverfield Lane', Trachtenberg come become the top 'go to' director of the genre. He has made a compact, intimate thriller that oozes an anxious and awkward mood that never allows the audience to comfortably settle into a predictable state of mind. The viewer always asks the question; Is it or isn't it? - when it comes to the context of the story. Originally based on a script that had nothing to do with the "Cloverfield" timeline, the narrative was re-worked by Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken into a 'Cloverfield' sequel that never becomes to complicated but rather relies on a single setting that is easy to follow. Like all good thrillers, '10 Cloverfield Lane' simmers away under the surface with well timed bursts of body jolting suspense that inevitably builds up to the climax.
Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a woman that is going through a difficult period in her relationship. Whilst driving alone in her car on a seemingly quiet and uneventful night, she is driven off the road in a high impact collision that was never seen coming. When she awakes, Michelle finds herself in a room on a matress with her injuries carefully tended to. A strange, off-beat man reveals himself to her as Howard (John Goodman) who tells her that she has been saved from a catastrophic disaster that has left the breathable air, toxic. Michelle is in a bunker, far underground with no knowledge of what is actually happening in the world above. For her own sanity, the young woman welcomes the discovery of another member of this strange abode, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), who is an acquaintance of this mysteriously unhinged Howard. As the film progresses, layers start to form around the narrative that immediately keeps the audience guessing.
There is not much to the cast as it revolves around three characters but each are absolutely necessary. Relative unknowns Winstead and Gallagher Jr. put in some very engaging performances as the two young occupants. Both are believable playing their roles that will no doubt catch the eye of potential employers in the future. Michelle and Emmett are characters that provide great exposure for young actors but create very little obstacles in terms of creativity. The real meat in the sandwich is John Goodman as the uneasy, socially awkward sociopath, Howard. The man is a volcano waiting to erupt with a mood that ultimately encompasses the whole production. I love Goodman and this is without doubt his best role since his star turn in the Coen Brothers, 'The Big Lebowski'.
'10 Cloverfield Lane' is a good strong thriller. Watching John Goodman work through his very disturbing character is worth the price of admission alone. The film has a simple layout but builds an engrossing layered story as the movie progresses. If there is a small annoyance in Dan Trachtenberg's debut feature it is the climax but again it is related to 'Cloverfield'.
Who's the Monster?
10 Cloverfield Lane
So after watching ‘Room’ a few weeks ago, this movie didn’t help. It was like, ‘Room’ with ‘Psycho’, ‘War of the Worlds’, ‘Cloverfield’ ‘Lovely Bones’ and ‘Battle Los Angeles’. Epic with it’s nature/nurture/kill themes yet really kept me on the edge of my seat in a 'Psycho' kind of way. So cool they got Sullivan from ‘Monsters Inc’ in the lead role.
Genre : Thriller, suspense, semi-alien tones
4/5 : totally worth a watch, at night, with the volume up. Get into it, chat with people (even strangers) around you about whats happening, it’ll only make it better.