Film, Reviews
Mar 11, 2016

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE A BRILLIANT PIECE OF MINIMALIST STORYTELLING

If you have yet to see the trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane featuring “I Think We’re Alone Now,” do yourself a favor, go Google it right now. I’ll wait.

Done? Moving on. That thing smacked me square in the face when I went to see Deadpool last month. Too long has passed since a preview has made me lean over to my neighbor and hiss about how effective THAT was, and that was before they threw Cloverfield at you. In an age where nothing can be kept from the fingers of the movie blogs and Twitter, almost no one knew a sequel to the 2008 monster smash monster movie Cloverfield was coming – and for good reason. It’s almost as if this film backed up into the Cloverfield franchise and it is wholly unnecessary for the two to share a title or universe, except for the all important marketing purposes. But, more on that later.

John Gallagher Jr., Mary Elizabeth Winsted and John Goodman bring powerful performances to 10 Cloverfield Lane.

John Gallagher Jr., Mary Elizabeth Winsted and John Goodman bring powerful performances to 10 Cloverfield Lane.

With the logistics of the universe and film business swept under the rug, lets get to it. 10 Cloverfield Lane is 90% absolutely fantastic. It starts with Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winsted), crashing her car in a frantic escape from what we can only assume is an abusive relationship. She wakes with an IV in her arm and her leg chained to a wall locked in a tiny basement cell. Her captor, Howard (John Goodman), claims to be her savior, but is he? He is. No he isn’t. But really he is. That dynamic drives the first half of the film as Goodman brilliantly keeps the audience guessing as to whether he is an evil Misery-esque captor or a brilliant survivalist that saved Michelle and their third roommate, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), from the apocalypse.

First time director Dan Trachtenberg tells the story in such a way that gives the audience the feeling of claustrophobia associated with living all to close within an inescapable abode. It is uncomfortable and creepy to watch, in a good way. The ensemble delivers performances that brilliantly mesh with the eerie score (written by The Walking Dead’s Bear McCreary).

Soon Michelle begins to discover things about Howard that lead her to believe that even if Howard is telling the truth about what lies beyond the bunker, the monsters outside might pail in comparison to the monster she and Emmett are dealing with, so they plan their escape. What follows is the shoulda, coulda, didn’t part of the film that could have eloquently ended it, leaving everyone satisfied, but the last 10% Cloverfields all over itself and derails as soon as Michelle escapes.

The last 15 minutes takes all the suspense and mystery built up and shoves it down your throat in the Velveeta cheesiest way possible. That’s not to say you shouldn’t see this film, because up until that point, it is a brilliantly suspenseful, creepy, fun, claustrophobic, thrilling piece of story telling.

Written by: Craig Sherwood