Review – 10 Cloverfield Lane
Directed by: Dan Trachtenberg
Written by: Damien Chazelle
Release Date: March 18th 2016
I remember when the first Cloverfield movie was released, it was made in secret and after the trailer dropped people were really hyped. Then the movie came out and it was okay, but nowhere near as good as the trailer and most people quickly forgot about it and it has kind of faded into obscurity since then, remembered only as an interesting experiment that never really lived up to its full potential. So when a follow up movie set in the same universe was first announced, you can imagine the surprise of movie fans.
I had a fantastic time getting to go back and re-watch 10 Cloverfield Lane for review. As was the case with the first Cloverfield, this movie was made in secret; which is not an easy thing to pull off in this day and age and although it shared a name with the first movie, it doesn’t necessarily function as a sequel or a prequel to the original.
This movie is an example of why sometimes it is better to have a small, focused team of people working on a restrictive budget towards a collective aim and end product, because what we end up with is a concentrated, purposeful film, in which each aspect has been handled with care. First off, this movie has three characters and that’s it, so the performances have to be nothing less than stellar for the piece to work. Luckily they are here.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays a young girl called Michelle who has just left her partner, however it is when she is driving away that she has a car accident and wakes up in the basement of Howard’s Doomsday bunker; the character played by John Goodman. As the film’s traumatising event unfold she shows resilience, persistence, tenacity and resourcefulness and she pulls it off in a believable way. John Gallagher Jr plays a man called Emmet who has known John Goodman’s character from before the events of the movie play out. He is the comic relief of the movie, but his character is just as important as the other two and he delivers a spot on performance.
However John Goodman’s performance in this film is of a different class, he runs away with the movie and steals every scene he is in. This film is a great reminder of why he is considered one of the great character actors of our time. it is very rare that I will say that an actor is perfect in a role, because in order to be a perfect performance in my eyes, the character must have no lines or scenes that I dislike, steal every scene that they are in and make me totally forget about the actor playing the part and only see the character that they are portraying. The last person to successfully pull it off was JK Simmons in Whiplash, that is the level of quality that we are talking about here and it is definitely Goodman’s best performance of the last decade.
The other star of this film is the audio, both the score used and the sound effects are so well timed and effective. The various tracks played throughout mixed with the straight up terrifying noises of simple things in the environment, especially the door of Michelle’s room, which honestly sounds like a woman screaming every time it is opened or closed. Also, I don’t know if John Goodman’s breathing was amplified in any way, but it is terrifying. The editing in this movie is also fantastic, best executed during Michelle’s crash at the start of the movie, the abrupt nature of the scenes and sound effects instantly let you know what kind of ride you are in for, for the next 90 minutes.
Okay, from this point on major plot points and twists will be spoiled. The film is 5 years old at this point, so if you still haven’t seen it, please go and watch it immediately and then come back to finish reading my review, you have been warned.
As the film progresses, we learn that Howard had a daughter called Megan, but Emmet and Michelle suspect that he may have killed his daughter or at least some other young girls, so they hatch a plan to break out. Howard finds evidence of the plan and confronts the pair, Emmett takes the blame and what is one of the most shocking scenes I have seen in cinema, Howard shoots him point blank in the head with a thunderous gunshot.
This scene is so well acted, so well shot and so well edited that it really blew me away. I have seen thousands upon thousands of onscreen gunshots at this point and none of them have ever had an impact quite like this one does.
After this, Michelle realises he really is crazy and she has to get out, but he also catches her with evidence of the escape plan and chases her around the bunker. Michelle then kicks acid over him and makes for the exit hatch in a terrifying chase sequence. After she gets out the bunker explodes, but she soon realises she isn’t in the clear yet. A dog like monster chases her around the garden which she runs from and then a large alien ship lifts her up. However, just as it is about to devour her, she makes a Molotov cocktail and throws it into the mouth of the beast blowing it up. She then drives away and the movie ends.
A lot of people have a problem with how the end of this movie plays out after Michelle leaves the bunker. Although I will say that the prior section of the movie is definitely superior to the ending sequence, it never ruined my experience and I still enjoy the film overall.
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