Movie Review: ’10 Cloverfield Lane’

Max Bickley – General Assignment Reporter

It is not very often that one will run into a movie with less than a handful of characters, scenes and special effects, but still be enthralling from within the first 10 minutes of the film. One of the most recent movies to be released, “10 Cloverfield Lane,” hit theaters as not only the spiritual successor to 2008’s “Cloverfield,” but as a thrilling movie of it’s own.

“10 Cloverfield Lane” follows “Cloverfield,” the 2008 found-footage film of a hidden monster attacking New York City as everyone panics. “10 Cloverfield Lane” is special in the way that there are only three characters and it is just as shocking as its predecessor.  However, it is also different in the way that “10 Cloverfield Lane” isn’t found-footage, but a standard third-person narrative, like most movies.

The story itself is deceptively simple. A young woman named Michelle, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, is driving through rural Louisiana when she gets into an accident. Upon waking up however she is chained to a wall and a man named Howard. John Goodman’s character, who reveals she is in his doomsday bunker and tells her that there has been a catastrophic event which has left the surface inhospitable. Howard rescued Michelle and another young man, and now they will need to survive in his bunker for as long as need be. The following story of the film is a series of intense turns and moments which all ask one question: what is the truth of what happened?

Which such a small cast, three people with minor occurrences of an outsider heard outside the bunker, they all do a great job, especially keeping the tensions in the film. Winstead, who plays Michelle the main character, is able to keep on that line of accepting their situation and trying to make the best of it, and simply curious. The same can be said for Emmet, the other survivor found by Howard and played by  John Gallagher, Jr. who keeps a healthy support to Winstead against the often controlling and suspicious caretaker.

This level of curiosity in Winstead is offset by the subtle authoritarian nature of Goodman’s performance. Goodman’s character, Howard, is that rational sort of crazy which makes his performance all the better; the audience can understand his fear, but at a certain point his paranoia and controlling nature becomes frightening. Goodman does a fantastic job knowing how and when to push the tension to the tipping point with a tumultuous rage in one scene, and then letting it subside to calm and demure nature in the next.

What the movie does best is create a strong sense of tension with very little in its pocket. The sets within the doomsday bunker are quaint and cozy, with a music player, games, even a living room of sorts, but it is always suffocated by this dread present. There is still the looming apocalypse outside the quaint and cozy of the bunker.

The true majesty of the movie is its ability to push the little senses of panic in a person until the end of the movie. The level of suspense and panic which build as the movie progresses and Howard becomes more manic and drives the plot to it’s climax. Not only is it a movie which delivers not only good scares, but it is also worthwhile movie to see.

Photo Credit: DAVID HOLT


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