Article By: Alice-Ginevra Micheli
One of the most mysterious films of the year, 10 Cloverfield Lane, came out of nowhere, giving us a simple taste of what was to come through a marketing campaign shrouded in secrecy and intrigue. This led to one of the few times I’ve walked into a cinema with little to no idea of what I was about to see, and boy did it pay off.
Directed by newcomer Dan Trachtenberg, the movie follows a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) as she wakes up in an underground bunker with two men (John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr.), only to be told that the outside world has been devastated by an attack and that there is no escape.
That is all I can tell you, as even the smallest amount of elaboration will ruin the viewing experience, because what this film does is bring back the suspense and intrigue that used to constantly be present but has slowly disappeared from the movie-going experience, with the rise of the internet and social media. I myself am a culprit of spoiling things for myself, whether on purpose or by accidentally glancing at something, which is why you should believe me when I tell you — this film is best seen when completely ignorant to its premise.
The direction is fantastic, using both absolute silence and a cacophony of sounds paired with stunning visuals that results in the audience having a physical reaction. Trachtenberg has expertly paired his command over the intensity of each character with the overarching mystery that continues throughout the whole film. You sit there trying to figure out what’s happening along with the characters, never truly knowing what is going on.
Speaking of, the acting in the film is superb, specifically from the powerhouse that is John Goodman. Normally, when I’ve seen him he plays a ‘cool cat’ sort of character, there to pull off some quippy lines and give aid to the protagonist and/or villain. Therefore, seeing him in this role as a truly unsettling persona really puts you on edge the whole time. He quickly changes from protective patriarch to insane captor from second to second, causing your opinion of him to shift after every scene. This is definitely the best role I’ve seen him in so far, and not to be too ahead of the curve but I believe he could be a main player come awards season.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead does a solid job of the lead, delivering her performance, with just enough accessibility so that you can follow her through processes and problem solving without wanting to yell at the screen every two minutes for idiotic decisions. She has to go through a range of emotions and scenarios throughout and in all of it she’s believable, making her a worthwhile character to watch.
John Gallagher Jr. is solid in his role, however he doesn’t bring anything particularly unique to the table. The emphasis is given to Goodman and Winstead, and therefore his character suffers for it, however, what he does get to do is plenty enough to appease the story and the audience.
What should also be mentioned, however, is the title. Specifically whether or not it relates at all to the previous 2008 film of a similar name, Cloverfield. In short, not really, as it more so focuses on the fact that there can be different kinds of dangers in many forms, human or otherwise, rather than connecting itself to the monster movie we remember. There are connections, especially near the end, but they’re more so there to remind the viewer of the world the film is set in rather than actually give a significant addition to the storyline.
In retrospect, that is also why it could be said that the ending, while exciting, is very rushed, giving you barely time to take a breath before the end credits begin to scroll. The film might have benefited from an extra 15 minutes, just to tie up some loose ends and create more of a connection between the films. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable and excellent in its own right, not by a long shot. J.J. Abrams got it right when he said this movie is a ‘blood relative’ of the original, and while there is a connection, it’s definitely not a sequel or prequel.
Overall, 10 Cloverfield Lane provides thrills, mystery and horror, that truly captivate and exhilarate anyone who is watching, affecting you long after it finishes, leaving you to contemplate not just the film, but humanity itself.