Saturday, March 19, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane: Movie Review


   


Uncertainty abounds at 10 Cloverfield Lane.
I tend to steer clear of monster movies, and I hate found footage movies, so I want nothing more to do with Cloverfield. But then this previously unknown J.J. Abrams-produced, Cloverfield “sequal” stormed out of the wood-work with tantalizing, mysteriously good critics reviews, and I couldn’t help but be intrigued. I’m a sucker for movies that can’t be fully explained, or rather shouldn’t be fully explained, and that’s exactly how the 10 Cloverfield Lane masterminds wants it to be. 2016

Directed by: Dan Trachtenberg

Screenplay by: Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, and Damien Chazelle

Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, and John Gallagher Jr.

Everything (almost everything) about this movie works. From its surprise existence, to its lack of advertising, to its use of Cloverfield in its title, and finally to its execution. The only expectations that people can reasonably have going in is that it’s a monster movie, but whether it actually is or isn’t a monster movie is no guarantee. This means that the audience is going to be second-guessing themselves, and that is a lot of the movie. Constantly trying to figure out where it’s going, what is actually happening, and then re-thinking that all over again.

John Goodman as Howard; Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle in 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE;
by Paramount Pictures. PHOTO CREDIT: Michele K. Short © 2016 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
It opens with a distraught Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) leaving her fiancé. She’s packed her things in a hurry, driving away, ignoring his calls. Throughout her drive she’s clearly panicked and concerned for her future safety. Then she gets in a car accident, and the next thing she knows is that she is locked in an underground bunker. Howard (John Goodman) insists that he has done it for her safety – he has crutches and slings to help heal her from her accident, but she has to stay in the bunker because an alien attack has left the outside world poisoned. She has a fellow bunkmate/prisoner with her named Emmett (John Gallagher Jr) who sought out Howard’s bunker for safety.

John Gallagher Jr. as Emmett, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle in 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE,
by Paramount Pictures. PHOTO CREDIT: Michele K. Short© 2016 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
Emmett thinks they are safer in the bunker, Michelle has no clue what’s going on but definitely questions their intentions. She can’t be certain whether Howard is malevolent or benevolent – crazy is a guarantee. The movie is a game of wits, Michelle trying to position herself so she can get out alive, meanwhile there’s always the possibility that Howard is telling the truth. There are some supremely intense stand-offs of personalities, and some extremely suspenseful moments as Michelle fights for the outside world – the uncertain outside world vs mysteriously-intentioned men in the bunker.

Michelle is a well-crafted female character. She’s strong, capable and resourceful, but unlike an action movie heroine, she’s not fighting just for the sake of fighting, she’s just trying to get herself to safety, to a world she knows and understands. She’s also not just worried about herself, there’s a feminine compassion to her which makes her warm up to Emmett and anyone else that Howard may have harmed in his past.

All good things must come to an end. The ending is a love it or hate it type of finale, and usually in reverse to how you felt about the movie before it. At first I hated it, but it does resonate well with the entire movie. There’s a lot of uncertainty happening at 10 Cloverfield Lane.