10 Cloverfield Lane
No one knows what J.J. Abrams is up to. Only two months ago, we found out that he had a secret film in the works that was a sequel to his 2008 film Cloverfield. Previous to that, no one had any idea that 10 Cloverfield Lane even existed. You have to admire the effort, especially in the interconnected world of today.
10 Cloverfield Lane, however, is not really a sequel to Cloverfield, more of a parallel story in the same “universe.” The story is about a woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who ends up in a car crash. She wakes up suddenly in a bunker with two other men (played by John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr.). These men tell her that there has been an attack and the air above ground is fatally toxic, they must stay in the bunker for a few years before its safe to venture outside.
The film is one of the most tense and horrifying thrillers I’ve seen in years. First-time director Dan Trachtenberg working off of a script that was contributed by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) among many others, has us double guessing and even triple guessing ourselves; is the apocalyptic story false? Are the two men who they say they are? The questions are answered with faint trickles of information that either clarify some things, or confuse you more. The greatest achievement of the creative team was making the film seem so claustrophobic for the audience; this has everyone biting and re-biting their nails and rocking back and forth in their seat in desperation. What is impressive is that this tension and claustrophobia isn’t only constant, but it accelerates as the film moves on; so that by the time the credits roll we all let out a big sigh of relief.
The small cast is any actor’s dream; it allows for a lot of screen time for them to develop their characters. The man who takes advantage of this the most is John Goodman, who is so creepily dangerous in this film, you almost wonder if it’s the same person who voiced Sully in Monster’s Inc. John Gallagher Jr. and Mary Elizabeth Winstead both hold their own very well, Winstead especially capturing the audience’s complete agony and distress.
So in the end 10 Cloverfield Lane is a mystery thriller that plays as much with your mind as it does with that of its characters. The ending is a bit over-the-top but the clever writing and the bold directing make this one of the best films of 2016 so far.