DIR: Dan Trachtenberg • WRI: Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, Damien Chazelle • PRO: J.J. Abrams, Lindsey Weber • DOP: Jeff Cutter • ED: Stefan Grube • DES: Ramsey Avery • MUS: Bear McCreary • CAST: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.
10 Cloverfield Lane is for the most part a damn good film and features great performances from John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Adapted from a script called The Cellar, it does not share the same fictional universe as 2008’s Cloverfield, but its producers have called it its ‘spiritual successor’. They’ve almost spoiled a very fine film by forcing this connection. What we have here are two things: a top-notch thriller and a ridiculous ending.
The majority of the film is good and I’d still recommend going to see it for many reasons. It’s as thrilling as a knife-wielding clown and is well-made and well-acted.
Michelle (Winstead) has just split up with her boyfriend and is moving across the state of Louisiana to start a new life when she gets into a car crash. She wakes up with an injured leg and is chained to a wall in a bunker.
She is locked into the cell-like room but when she meets the man who put her there, Howard (Goodman), he tells her she is not a prisoner or an abductee. Howard built the bunker himself and according to him there’s been a massive attack by an unknown force. Much of the population has been wiped out and the air above ground is contaminated. They must stay in the bunker for a couple of years until the air clears.
She doesn’t believe him. Of course she doesn’t. But it is not just the two of them in the shelter. Howard’s neighbour Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) is also hiding out there and he says he backs up Howard’s story. It was him who helped build the shelter.
As the film progresses, Michelle sees things that make her think that the two men aren’t lying. But just because Howard may be telling the truth about the world ending doesn’t mean Michelle is safe down in the bunker with him.
Goodman is great in the role. Howard has spent most of his life preparing for doomsday and is a keen conspiracy theorist. Rather than mourn the end of the world, he seems to enjoy his new role as the ultimate authority in the bunker. He becomes more and more unstable and starts to behave like a child throwing tantrums because the other kids won’t play a game exactly how he wants to play it.
The use of sound and music in the film is excellent. They both add to the sense of fear Michelle feels and her wariness towards Howard. The bunker itself is small and creates a claustrophobic sense which pervades throughout the movie. As things go on, they get tighter. Michelle has to crawl through vents so tiny that Die Hard’s John McClane would probably have a panic attack in them.
It’s a proper thriller that gets stranger by the scene and keeps you guessing until the end. Winstead, using her big expression filled eyes, is the perfect choice to play someone who has to react to some seriously crazy things happening in front of her.
The film is strong. More than strong enough to stand on its own. There was no need to try peg it to Cloverfield’s brand. In the end, that’s the one thing that weakens it. But again, it’s well worth going to see.
15A (See IFCO for details)
10 Cloverfield Lane is released 18th March 2016