10 Cloverfield Lane
I love it’s predecessor, however, the only connective tissue between Cloverfield and this “sequel” is Abrams and the Cloverfield brand. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that is a bad thing.
John Goodman is a BEAST. Goodman’s portrayal of the doomsday prepper, “Howard,” is off-kilter and unsettling. I’ve enjoyed his work for years. He is tremendous as “Babe Ruth” in The Babe. I also found him memorable in the overlooked Kevin Smith film, Red State. Most are familiar with Goodman’s comedic efforts, but, make no mistake, he can get dark. He gave a fidgety, disturbing, essential performance in 10 Cloverfield Lane that propels the picture through the mysterious first two acts.
Silence is golden. First time director, Dan Trachtenberg, astutely uses silence in this film. He builds one tense confrontation upon another to increase the confusion and panic. However, he lets dialogue and performance take center stage. Many scenes will feature either no music or one long continuous single note, to punctuate the building terror.
And then…the startling CLANK of a security door bolt pierces a scene.
Also, he adroitly uses recognizable pop music to break the tension when necessary. It provides the necessary respite from an otherwise anxious viewing experience.
Little things matter. Writers Josh Campbell, Matthew Struecken, and Damian Chazelle crossed all the T’s and dotted all the I’s. There isn’t much fat on this film. Bits of dialogue mean something and come into play later. If the camera lingers for a half beat on an item, you will see it again . However, it’s so subtly done that you won’t realize it until you are driving home and thinking about the movie.
The film takes chances. The bulk of 10CL takes place in an underground fallout bunker. Howard and cohabitants, Michelle and Emmett, are survivors of what Howard believes to be some sort of chemical attack that has rendered the outside air poisonous. Without giving too much away, Michelle, the protagonist of the picture, isn’t there by choice. Her early unease with her predicament gives way to trust of Howard’s assessment of their situation.
Meanwhile, the seeds planted for the viewer suggest that Howard is unbalanced and there, in fact, is no crisis at all.
The third act reveals that Howard was even more unbalanced than originally suggested and that the outside environment does pose a threat—just not what the viewer supposed it to be.
Most films would have had Michelle escape the bunker to find the world was safe and Howard merely a victim of illness. Fade to credits.
Not this time. Not this film. Howard is, in fact, ill. But, like my father used to say, “even a broken clock is correct twice a day.” Just because he is crazy, it doesn’t mean he is wrong.
I loved 10 Cloverfield Lane.
It works early as a puzzle. New viewers will spend the first 2/3 of the film trying to gain footing and put together the few clues the movie offers.
Throughout, there are plenty of tense moments and fun jump scares to keep one engaged.
Viewers may have split feelings about the conclusion of the film, but I think the writing and direction stuck the landing.
Everything coming out of Hollywood for the last number of years has been a retread of a re-imagination of a sequel of something. The Cloverfield franchise is daring to be different. It is compelling and bold. In this day of regurgitated, non-speculative filmmaking, audacity should be rewarded.
-Zep the Bear