Jeff Trachternberg directs the mystery drama 10 Cloverfield Lane, Michelle finds herself shackled, held hostage in an underground bunker by a gruff, imposing man after a car accident, she tries to make her escape and find out what’s really going on outside, the film stars John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallager Jr.
10 Cloverfield Lane really is a surprise in a few ways, it’s a film pretty much no one saw coming or expected, though some people have been pining for a Cloverfield sequel, this is a spiritual sequel, not directly addressing or following on from the film so it doesn’t really count, that being said, for a film with no real expectations as no one knew it existed, it does a fairly good job at what it sets out to do. And this is helmed by some good plot direction, pacing and a strong base of characters, it’s very a small cast with its 3 main leads but they’re all very distinct and their personalities really come out. Conveyed clearly by some pretty strong acting, John Goodman is the somewhat stereotypical big, gruff not to be trusted Howard, John Gallager Jr is the rather nervous but naive Emmett and Mary Elizabeth Winstead does a great job as Michelle, being inquisitive and generally un-trusting of her situation unsurprisingly, Winstead particularly is the stand out for me in another great role, she really tends to nail the lone survivor type character and is great at conveying her emotions, namely panic and anguish. And in seeing this, you really empathise with her and will her on to do her thing and escape as she’s also quite likeable.
And plot wise, I like that Cloverfield Lane just thrusts you straight in, you know what the set up is but the film wastes no time in doing anything more, getting you right into Michelles’ situation an quickly establishing the characters, setting and what will be happening which amounts to a fair amount of dialogue, mystery and of course a lot of tension, which underpins and drives the narrative. The tension is handled very well and makes for some genuinely unnerving scenes with some added double meaning to them, simply having characters talk with underlying subtext or characters knowing things other characters don’t makes for all the more tension and the performances really bring this out. And of course knowing the characters personalities and that they could snap in such a cramped, boiler-room environment keeps you on your toes as a viewer.
Should we trust Howard, is he lying or not? Not knowing what’s outside and whether there really is danger out there, these ongoing questions keep you interested as the plot goes along and the film does a good job of dangling potential answers just out of reach to keep you invested and you’re very much in the characters boots here, not quite knowing what’s out there but wanting to find out. Importantly, things are paced well and it doesn’t take forever for the plot to move to along with things getting a bit more elaborate in a bit of a predictable way that does still keep your interest, though you can criticise the final third for feeling a bit out of the blue and not really developed, that being said it culminates with some of that previous well managed tension and is an engaging thrill ride from start to finish.
. Has some great performances in it, especially from Mary Winstead, John Goodman
. Well managed tension, suspenseful scenes
. Some plot points may seem like afterthoughts, shoehorned in