10 Cloverfield Lane is satisfying in every way you wanted its cousin Cloverfield to be. It’s a thriller first and foremost and it’s the most Twilight Zone thing I’ve ever seen. Be wary of your expectations, however. This film has almost nothing to do with Cloverfield. It’s a tense thriller that toward the end shares certain concepts but all ties are thematic at best.
10 Cloverfield Lane is a film that starts in a moment of personal struggle. This film is dependent on Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s performance really making this movie work. Winstead shows that she is one of the greatest actresses working today, her first scene is silent and it’s the first few moments that really make this movie sing. Those first few moments make the growth that occurs during the movie all the more important. Watch this movie for her more than anything.
We follow Winstead as Michelle a young woman running away from a relationship instead of trying to fix it. This eventually leads to her car getting knocked off the road in an accident. The car accident itself is loud, brutal and theater shaking. It’s a perfect way to shake the audience out of any comfort. From there we find Michelle in a bunker with John Goodman as Howard who eventually tells her he’s a good samaritan just trying to help after she’s spent a while thinking he’s a rapist or serial killer. Much of the film hinges on whether or not we believe the Howard character, is he who he says he is, what are his true intentions. After the introduction of John Gallagher, Jr. as Emmet the films bungees back forth from extreme tension to relaxed slumber. Each time trust seems to be achieved it’s disrupted. The small cast of makes the experience claustrophobic while being emotionally potent.
This film really depends on how much you believe the interplay of Emmet, Howard, and Michelle. You really believe not only the tense moments but also the softer moments that occur at points when they all trust each other. You believe Howard as he and Michelle bond over his daughter. As well you buy into the swapping of stories by Michelle and Emmet.
10 Cloverfield Lane is also truly frightening, I tend not to be scared but this film brought back memories of the power station scene in Jurassic Park or the end of The Shinning. It’s a movie that keeps you guessing and answers all your question at the same time.
Ultimately a satisfying ride with a lot of elements that make me want to see what Dan Trachtenberg does in the future. My biggest disappointment it that so many people will assume this is a J. J. Abrams film and not realise this film stands on its own regardless of the title. This film is Trachtenberg’s Terminator or Looper and I can’t wait to see the next step.