When I first watched the trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane it was one of the first times I was actually shocked to see the reveal of the title. I had heard rumblings for the last few years that they might make a sequel to the original Cloverfield (2008) and here we are. The fact that they don’t reveal the title until the end of the trailer was extremely clever and I’m glad I was able to see it in a movie theater without knowing what it was a trailer for. When the original Cloverfield came out in 2008 it also received a lot of praise for how it was marketed. The movie itself is a bit more polarizing. Some people love it for what it is and other people just think it is some dumb hand held camera monster movie. I fall kind of in the middle of that. I enjoyed Cloverfield although I wouldn’t say that it is a great movie. With 10 Cloverfield Lane all I really hoped for was the original to be topped by this one and I think it succeeds in doing just that.
10 Cloverfield Lane is about a woman named Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who has decided to leave her husband after getting into an argument. She is driving when all of a sudden she loses control and gets into a massive wreck rolling her car off the road. She wakes up in an empty room laying on nothing but a mattress and realizes she is chained the the wall by some sort of cast or knee brace. An older man named Howard (John Goodman) comes in and tells her that he has saved her and brought her to his homemade underground bomb shelter. He says some chemical has been released into the air and it won’t be safe to go above ground for a year or two. Michelle does not trust him and is not sure if there really is some sort of apocalyptic event or if Howard has just abducted her. She is weary of Howard, but she also makes friends with the one other person in the bomb shelter named Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) who is about the same age as she is.
For as small of a cast that 10 Cloverfield Lane has the actors really give it their all in this movie. John Goodman plays a creepy character and really shows what a great actor he is. If you are expecting good fun loving Dan Conner from Roseanne in this movie I’m going to have to disappoint you and say that you aren’t getting it. Goodman character Howard is a former Navy man who is a disciplinarian and always just seems a little off. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is an actress who has had a lot of success, but has never quite hit it really big in the mainstream. Here she really shows a lot of emotional depth as Michelle and I’d be willing to bet that she will get much bigger roles if this movie does well at the box office. The third actor to star in the movie is John Gallagher Jr. who has had a lot of success on the same level as Mary Elizabeth Winstead. He has done very well in stage musicals and smaller parts in movies and TV shows and I think his character Emmett is sort of a breakout role for him due to him being featured a bit more than a lot of other roles he has had. His character of Emmett is sort of simple minded in some ways but he is also very likable and adds a bit of comic relief.
The best thing I can say about 10 Cloverfield Lane is that it is really good at building tension. The great movie Room from last year was able to do that in one very important scene and I feel that 10 Cloverfield Lane does something similar and just kind of builds it up little by little. This movie has a very simple plot, but it keeps you guessing almost till the very end. The obvious thing you have to ask yourself while you are watching the movie is whether an apocalypse outside the bomb shelter is really happening or not. I won’t spoil the ending or anything, but I will say that the movie answers that question very decisively.
A lot of the tension built up in this movie is really owed to John Goodman. He does a wonderful job at playing Howard who just comes off as a reserved yet authoritative character. The interesting thing about the character of Howard is that you are never really sure whether he is a bad guy or a good guy until the movie finally answers that question which is does just like it answers the former apocalypse happening or not question. There are moments between Howard and Michelle that make you think Howard could be a really good guy but in the next scene it really keeps you guessing and the suspicion alive.
The entire movie of 10 Cloverfield Lane is basically shot in the bomb shelter. You might think that limits the movie and in some ways I guess it does sort of limit the plot, but the movie is really about the three characters so I don’t really mind that. The filmmakers were able to use the limited surroundings very well and it reminded me how other similar movies such as The Breakfast Club do the same thing. If I had to really compare this to the first Cloverfield movie I’d say this movie is executed much more skillfully. I like the idea of the first Cloverfield movie, but it just doesn’t have quite the same tension or unique characters as 10 Cloverfield Lane.
Dave’s Rating- ★★★★(4) out of ★★★★★(5)