“Crazy is building your ark after the flood has already come.”
Prior to seeing 10 Cloverfield Lane, I had no idea what it was about (which, may I add, is very unusual for me). I had not seen the first 2008 installation simply entitled Cloverfiled. I hadn’t see any trailers. I hadn’t even read a plot summary. All I had to go off was an ominous looking poster and a great rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Knowing nothing about it actually worked to my advantage, allowing 10 Cloverfield Lane to hit me full force and be the intense and shocking movie it is!
10 Cloverfield Lane starts with Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) frantically packing up her apartment. Shot with tight, narrow camera angles, no dialogue and no explanation for her tears, 10 Cloverfield Lane immediately ensnares viewers, throwing them into the film. As Michelle drives away from the city and into the countryside she calls her boyfriend, and as she is looking down at her phone, a car slams into her, setting her into a spin that lands her in a wreck on the side of the road. With a jarring bang, the opening credits appear announcing that this is 10 Cloverfield Lane.
Michelle wakes up some time later, in what appears to be a cell, lying on a tiny mattress, blood on her head, an IV in her arm, her leg chained to the wall. Panic sets in. As Michelle begins to believe she has been kidnapped, her captor Howard (John Goodman) walks in and hands her a key to the chain on her leg. Not the usual actions of an abductor. Something just doesn’t add up for this to be a kidnapping. After naturally pleading for her release and attempting escape, Howard informs Michelle that there was a chemical attack and the world she once knew is now uninhabitable, the air unbreathable and her only chance of survival is staying underground with him in a bunker fully equipped to get them through doomsday.
She meets Emmett, the only other person lucky enough to be alive in the bunker. The three then begin their new life underground together, passing the time with boardgames, movies and wondering if they just might be some of, if not the sole survivors on Earth.
Howard, played by John Goodman, is quite a character that through the course of the film teeters on the edge of insanity; sometimes acting psychotic and demented and making you question if there really was an attack or if it was all some sick ploy. Then, at other times other times he seems like a normal man, just wanting to live through whatever is going on in the outside world and kindly sheltering Michelle and Emmett. Howard is unsettling, you really don’t know what to think of him; a great testament and showcase of Goodman’s acting skills.
Emmett, played John Gallagher Jr., (known by theater nerds as Moritz Stiefel in the 2006 Broadway production of Spring Awakening) is a sweet and extremely lovable hillbilly, who never ventured past a 40 mile radius from his home. I suspected that after living in the close quarters of the bunker for a while, something might happen between him and Michelle but alas, no romance ever sparked.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead did a wonderful job as Michelle. Much of the film revolves around her; she gets the last half hour or so all to herself. In scenes where she flies solo, with no dialogue or other actors to interact with, she still manages to convey powerful emotions and command the scene.
10 Cloverfield Lane is really well crafted and makes for a truly great film. The cinematography and music especially stood out to me, working together to create a suspenseful and creepy tone. The writing is also great and keeps you guessing till the end; pitching one curve ball after the other and showing that things, and people, really aren’t what they seem. The end scene, though it poses more unknowns then answers, leaves audiences with just a tiny glimmer of hope, transmitted over the car radio, that in the end, man kind will rise against evil and begin to rebuild society.
You don’t need to see Cloverfield (2008) to thoroughly enjoy 10 Cloverfield Lane. It’s a different type of an apocalyptic story, a physiological thriller that focuses not as much on the invaders but on the survivors and the three character’s life underground. It is such a fun movie to watch: it’s frightening in some parts and filled with suspense and fear. An awesomely entertaining film, one of the best of 2016 so far, that will push you, and keep you, at the edge of your seat!