Monsters Come in Many Forms
10 Cloverfield Lane is a 2016 science fiction thriller film directed by Dan Trachtenberg and stars John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr. The film is a successor to the 2008 monster movie Cloverfield.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Michelle, a young woman who finds herself in an underground bunker with two other men named Emmitt (Gallagher) and Howard (Goodman). Howard claims an unknown attack has taken place on the surface and has left Earth uninhabitable. As Michelle observes more of Howard's bizarre behavior, she grows more curious to escape the bunker and head back up to the surface.
The premise alone is enough to spark curiosity, but what makes 10 Cloverfield Lane even more intriguing is the tension and creepy, edge-of-your-seat atmosphere. The film takes place almost entirely in one setting; the bunker, and we feel some semblance of claustrophobia, because there is nowhere else for us to go and we are fearful of what we do not know. We do not know what exactly is on the surface. We do not know what Howard is going to do next. We do not know exactly how Michelle intends to escape. Tension levels rise, the creepiness sends chills down our spines, and we beg for an escape in the same way Michelle does. This is what makes 10 Cloverfield Lane all the more interesting; we want to know what we do not know, and that is why we want to watch, no matter how unsettling it may feel.
- John Goodman's performance. Goodman's Howard is a character who lusts for control, and will stop at nothing to keep himself in charge. While Howard is very controlling, he never gives off the impression of being a complete sociopath. Sure, he is mysterious and untrustworthy, but he is never unreasonable. Goodman smartly avoids making Howard illogically psychotic, while still being able to make him appear scary and intimidating. It is unquestionably one of Goodman's best performances in recent years.
- How unpredictable the movie is. 10 Cloverfield Lane always finds a way to keep you guessing. Just when you think you've got the answer and think to yourself, "I think this is going to happen", the movie reminds you it is always one step ahead, and throws a curve ball on what you thought would happen. For example, Michelle steals Howard's keys while eating dinner in one scene, intending to use them to escape. You might think, "She'll wait until everyone goes to sleep" or "She'll go for it when Howard isn't around". But maybe a solid minute after she steals the keys, Howard notices they're gone, forcing Michelle to make a run for it right then and there. The movies knows what you're thinking, and is prepared for whatever prediction you dare to make next.
- The ending. Some people might say this should be a high point, but the ending comes off as slightly anticlimactic. Given the premise, a twist ending seems all but certain. What actually does happen in the end makes sense, but it leaves more to be desired, as if the movie forgot to give you that important, cut-throat piece of advice to keep in the back of your head for next time (because a sequel seems highly likely). Considering the suspense the movie left us in for the majority of its runtime, the ending somewhat sours how you may have been feeling up to that point.
10 Cloverfield Lane, overall, is a gripping and tense sci-fi thriller, bolstered by a solid performance from John Goodman. The film doesn't let up and always finds a way to keep you guessing. It could very well be one of 2016's best.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: