'10 Cloverfield Lane' Review

Updated on March 18, 2019
Sam Shepards profile image

Hi, I'm Sam, I love movies. My main interest is science fiction and zombie movies. Pessimistic and survival films I also enjoy a lot.

Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has decided to leave her husband, after a fight that we never witnessed. On her way to her new destination, she suffers a car accident.

She awakes in an underground doomsday bunker created by an imposing man called Howard Stambler (John Goodman) who, along with "nice guy" Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.), assures her that on the surface, the world has suffered a devastating attack of an unknown origin, making the air unbreathable for at least a couple of years.

Clearly, Howard is mentally unstable. At times he is perceived as a good, though clumsy, Samaritan and other times as a creepy kidnapper. Once again, as in Cloverfield (2008), the fear of the unknown (both inside and outside the bunker) is what reigns.

By itself, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a great piece of suspense, whose main theme is the empowerment of a woman on her journey to escape domestic abuse. Even the ending, which could be perceived as another implanted genre, is really a reaffirmation of the motif.

It's a great analogy of the victim's fear to break the cycle of violence and to seek the solution in the vast, unknown and terrifying outside world, which at times makes the victim conclude that it's better to have the "security" of the daily known abuse.

It's a great tale that dances between the claustrophobic terror and the dread of agoraphobia. All merit goes to writers Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken and Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land).

Director Dan Trachtenberg, who came from making a very good short film based on the video game Portal, does wonders with a low budget. In large part, the film's quality resides on the onscreen power of John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Especially Goodman, who registers several tones with a very complicated character that passes from monster to charismatic loser in a matter of seconds.

And of course, 10 Cloverfield Lane also functions as a new chapter in the Cloverfield saga. But in order to do that, it's necessary to follow J.J. Abrams/Bad Robot favorite formula and dedicate extra time to an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) full of elaborate online puzzles that served as a marketing for this film. In doing so, you'll discover Howard's relationship with fictitious companies Tagruato and Bold Futura. Both companies are central in understanding key elements in the original Cloverfield.

Of course, knowing that the original script was called The Cellar, whose apocalyptic ending didn't include aliens and didn't have any relation with Cloverfield (before Chazelle's rewrite) can leave the sensation that this was a somewhat improvised move in order to make a pseudo Cloverfield sequel at the last minute.

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Sure, Bad Robot took advantage of a good script (which they paid for), resurrected a franchise and are already working on a third film that will connect the universe. This is how cinema is made, even if it isn't the romantic super planned project we would like it to be. If the result has an outstanding quality, it's completely valid.

What's undeniable is that having a saga about monsters and alien invasions, narrated tangentially (first with some friend's found footage and then by an intimate suspense thriller) resulting in two very different films of great quality, is really an unprecedented experiment.

Movie Details

Title: 10 Cloverfield Lane

Release Year: 2016

Director(s): Dan Trachtenberg

Actors: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr., a.o.

4 stars for 10 Cloverfield Lane

© 2019 Sam Shepards

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