Long time readers of Neon Reels will know that I am a huge fan of JJ Abrams produced monster flick Cloverfield, it was a non-stop ride which perfected the “found footage” gimmick. Long time readers of the Neon Reels will also know that I have been championing a new addition to the franchise ever since. Finally, 8 years later, I am being rewarded. 10 Cloverfield Lane is upon us and, thankfully, it’s fantastic.
We begin 10 Cloverfield Lane with Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) being involved in a car crash and awakening in a strange empty room. From there she is revealed to be in a bunker with Howard (John Goodman) who claims to have saved her life. As the movie progresses Michelle, along with fellow bunkmate Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.), slowly unravel the mystery of who her fellow survivors are and what “event” happened in the outside world, if at all.
Starting with the main character, Michelle, is shown to be a very strong and adaptive person. I enjoyed that you could feel a real, concentrated effort by the writers to ensure horror character stereotypes were avoided. Michelle’s first thought is “GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE” and processing how to do as such. No crying, pleading. No running into a dead-end on the right, when the exit is on the left. It’s a breath of fresh air. Opposite Michelle is Howard. He’s revealed to have hand crafted the bunker and is shown to be a doomsday prepper. John Goodman’s performance is this wonderfully uneasy mix of loveable and skin-crawling. He must be disappointed the movie didn’t drop in time for this year’s award nominations because he would have been in with a shout. But this time next year, the level of detail in his performance will have been forgotten.
For a first time feature length movie, Dan Trachtenberg has set the bar very high for himself. The way in which the movie was shot within the confined space of a bomb shelter is very skilfully done as Trachtenberg always finds a new angle to explore the limited space whilst retaining a very claustrophobic aesthetic.
Okay, I’m going to talk about the ending. So it’s time to throw up the SPOILER ALERT. You have been warned. So, the ending. It has been very divisive but I am in the pro camp. At this point of the movie, Michelle has escaped the bunker only to go and find herself confronted with aliens (well, it is a Cloverfield movie after all). For me, it was a brilliant upping of the ante, Michelle thinks she is safe now she has escaped but OH NO now she has to face the unimaginable. It’s a baptism of fire for our character who is no longer running from her problems but running directly at them. END SPOILER ALERT.
We are only in April (well, March when I wrote this) but I can’t see many movies coming close for me. I found it hard to really think of any issues I had with the movie. I had waited and pushed for a new movie in the Cloverfield universe and the waiting was worth it. 10 Cloverfield Lane is superb.