Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane – Three’s a crowd for psychological thriller

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THE APPARENT ‘blood relative’ of 2008’s Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane ditches the found-footage genre for something more of a psychological thriller. With J.J. Abrams staying on as producer, 10 Cloverfield Lane sees Dan Trachtenberg pop his directorial cherry, with John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher, Jr. taking the starring roles. Despite its outwards appearance as a Sci-fi, 10 Cloverfield Lane is so much more, and seems to be a step away, thematically from its predecessor.

 

Going into 10 Cloverfield Lane, I didn’t really know what to expect. Despite not seeing Cloverfield, I wasn’t worried for spoilers, since the two films are basically unconnected. Opening with merely a hint of the unusual, 10 Cloverfield Lane sees Michelle (Winstead) in the midst of a break up, and, as she is driving away from her fiancé, ends up in a car crash, awakening the cellar of Howard (Goodman). Howard informs her that there has been an attack, making the air outside toxic, therefore themselves and Emmett (Gallagher, Jr.) must remain in his bunker.

The first thing you notice about 10 Cloverfield Lane is how great the casting is. Each character has a well rounded personality, a back story, all within the 103 minute running time. But even with these facts, there’s always a level of uncertainty, of questioning; who really are these people? Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher, Jr. are capable and competent in their roles, but it’s really John Goodman who owns this film. Sometimes you forget just how excellent of an actor he really is, and 10 Cloverfield Lane sees him range from comforting to insane. But, as an ensemble, the three main actors work fantastically together, and create both a sense of uneasiness and safety throughout the run of the film.

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Story wise, 10 Cloverfield Lane does a good job of keeping the plot interesting, thrilling and dangerous. With a premise of three people trapped in a confined space, it had potential to run dry pretty quickly. But this film thankfully avoids that, and creates a genuinely decent psychological thriller. Perhaps my only criticism of the story (and indeed of the entire movie) is the last ten minutes. After such an intense amount of time spent in such an enclosed environment, the finale of the film feels out of place, and perhaps gives too much away. It’s not a terrible ending, but takes away from the overall experience.

Aside from that, there’s very little to fault in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Acting: Brilliant. Story: Riveting. Running time: Perfect. Music: Not particularly standout, but does its part in making the film as chilling as it could be. Design: Mixes both the apocalyptic and homely, giving a hint that all is not as right in the bunker as it should be. On the whole, this is a damn good film. Forget everything you think you know about it, forget Cloverfield. Go into this movie with an open mind and I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised, as well as on the edge of your seat.

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