Hi everyone, Bryan Here….
Has it really been 8 years since we saw New York destroyed in ‘Cloverfield‘, which was the “found footage” film produced by J.J. Abrams about a giant monster in NYC. That film was highly secretive before it came out, and nobody really knew anything about it, but it did well at the box office and there was a lot of talk of a sequel for a number of years. A couple of years ago, things started popping up on sites that said “Untitled J.J. Abrams” project, and as of a couple of months ago, we got the first glimpse of a trailer called ‘10 Cloverfield Lane‘, produced by Abrams again and directed by first time feature director Dan Tratchenberg (Portal short). The studio and Abrams himself said that this was not a direct sequel to 2008’s ‘Cloverfield‘, but it was a blood relative or spiritual successor to it, because where do you really go from the end of ‘Cloverfield‘?
If you’ve seen the trailers, you would see ‘10 Cloverfield Lane‘ has some definitive similarities with something “out-of-this-world” going on, but we never know what. Instead of showing a giant monster terrorizing people and destroying buildings in New York, Tratchenberg goes with the slow burn suspense, which is in my opinion, a much better tactic here than that former. I literally sweat in my seat and was biting my nails throughout the film, and I rarely do that. The film opens with Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) driving away from New Orleans after a fight with her fiance. On a deserted stretch of highway in the middle of the night, she is in a car accident and wakes up chained to a bed in an underground bunker.
She is given medical help and food by Howard (John Goodman) and conspiracy theorist and survivalist who says he rescued her from the accident. When asked why she is chained up, Howard tells her that “There has been an attack and that nobody is looking for you, and that she’s safe in his underground facility that he’s been planning for a number of years.” There is also another person in the underground shelter by the name of Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), who is a close neighbor of Howards and helped him build the bunker. Emmett confirms all of what Howard has said about what’s going on outside above ground.
Still, Michelle wants to see for herself and makes an attempted escape, only to see the events taking place outside for herself. Everyone tries to make due for a little while, but a few incidents draw some serious paranoia that have Michelle and Emmett planning yet another escape, even if what lies outside the confines of the bunker is much more sinister than what is happening underground. Both visually and story-wise, ‘10 Cloverfield Lane‘ is a big leap from the original ‘Cloverfield‘, and is more about what happens between three people, forced to live underground with a treasure trove full of uncertainty and high tension at every corner.
Writers Josh Campbell and Matthew Struecken with some help from Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) have conjured up some the most suspenseful moments in film in a long while, by taking their time to tell a cohesive narrative with off-kilter characters and only giving crumbs of information when needed, leaving us in suspense the whole time of who to believe and what to believe. It’s something that hasn’t really been done this effectively since John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’, where there is a claustrophobic like setting and a slow build of suspense over the first two parts of the film, culminating in a highly thrilling a scary final act. It’s very effective and unforgettable.
John Goodman is stellar here, playing the mysterious man you never know how to react to. He can make you love him or fear him in an instant. Both Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. also turn in excellent performances here, playing the distressed card and hero card quite often. I also see Dan Tratchenberg having an amazing career, judging by this movie alone. His ability to film the tight closed up spaces as well as the final act with some brilliant big set pieces are haunting, yet beautiful. And nothing is complete with out Bear McCreary’s phenomenal score that keeps your heart beating faster than it should.
– Bryan Kluger