Saturday, April 09, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane

Year: 2016
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.

Plot: A young woman gets into a car accident and wakes up in an underground bunker of a mysterious man who claims the world has ended outside and she has to stay inside for her own safety. But is it really true? And is it a good idea to be holed up down there with a total stranger? Probably not.

Review: Matt Reeves' Cloverfield in 2008 was one of my favorite films of that year, and I still love it now. I recall most people complaining that the found footage style of that film made them dizzy, but I totally loved it. Reeves successfully put me as a viewer right in the middle of the story and I was on the edge the entire time. So is 10 Cloverfield Lane related to the 2008 masterpiece? Well, sort of. I can say it's like a distant cousin of the original.

We begin with Michelle, who leaves her boyfriend in a hurry and drives through rural Louisiana before getting into a car accident. She wakes up in an underground bunker belonging to Howard, a man who claims he saved her after the crash and brought her there. According to Howard, the world has ended outside due to a widespread attack, hinting chemical, nuclear or alien causes. Joining them down there is Emmett, a man who apparently helped Howard build the bunker in the first place. Naturally, Michelle wants to leave to see things for herself but Howard won't allow it. So what exactly is really going on?

J.J. Abrams serves as producer again this time around, with newcomer Dan Trachtenberg in charge of directing. Unlike the original, this film isn't found footage styled, but it has its own way of keeping things tense and edgy. Trachtenberg paces the film methodically and yet it never gets dull, thanks to his ability of revealing things organically and keeping us guessing. The atmosphere is constantly tense, with a few well placed outbursts of violence to jolt audiences right out of their seats. Putting three strangers in a small bunker definitely creates a pressure cooker situation and Trachtenberg handles it so well at his first feature directing gig.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead, arguably one of the most talented young actresses today, is awesome as the resourceful Michelle, who reacts the same way we would in this situation and is sort of the audience's proxy in the film. John Goodman is phenomenal as Howard, playing him as a slightly off-kilter guy whom you know you can't trust at the get-go, and yet you can't totally label as a bad man at the same time. Goodman skilfully balances his character and makes him kinda creepy too. John Gallagher Jr rounds up the cast as Emmett, the somewhat token loser character in the film, and succeeds in getting some sympathy from the audience.

There are a couple of things I had a slight problem with though. Bear McCreary's score, while very fitting here, was used too much in abundance by Trachtenberg in certain scenes where background silence would have been more appropriate. Another thing was Michelle's resourcefulness, which goes into overdrive in the final fifteen minutes. Being resourceful is one of her best character traits, but there was a lot of shit going on in those fifteen minutes, and Michelle miraculously seems to find a way to keep pushing forward, which is a little too convenient. But these are small complaints, and it didn't completely ruin the experience for me.

There is talk of a sequel and I totally welcome it. For now I can say that 10 Cloverfield Lane is a brilliant thriller that you really ought to see. (8/10)

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