Movie Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane
More of a spinoff, “10 Cloverfield Lane,” a feature film debut by director Dan Trachtenberg, is not a sequel of the 2008 monster movie that went viral, “Cloverfield.” Fans may be able to find some semblance of connections, but for the majority of us, it is a standalone movie – and there’s nothing wrong with it. In reality, it is a far superior creation. And thank goodness, no shaky cam. Like the J.J. Abrams’ spellbindingly “Super 8,” the movie brings home a tense tone and ambiance, but making it a hostile, grown-up version in an isolated setting.
Both “Cloverfield” and “Super 8” have monsters; here, it will keep you guessing whether there is a monster, but as the tagline says, monsters come in many forms. They may or may not necessarily be aliens.
The screen opens mundanely. A young woman, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), leaving a diamond ring on the table, flees with her car. She presumably breaks things off with her boyfriend. The faceless boyfriend appears in a form of a telephone call (voiced by Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper“) while she’s driving. All of a sudden, Michelle is in a freak car crash.
Michelle wakes up and finds herself chained to a bed in a sparse room, locked with a metal door. A little banged up, but nothing major. The next few minutes kicks everything into hyper gear and never lets up. Michelle struggles to wiggle and release herself, facing her captor, a burly, surly guy named Howard (John Goodman). From that very moment, you’ll know right away she’s not some damsel-in-distress. Michelle is supremely resourceful and mentally strong. And throughout the course of the movie, she proves herself to be a heroine.
This looks like a straightforward kidnapping flick. Far from it. Howard rambles on, letting Michelle know that he saves her from the crash and takes her to his underground lair because the world as she knows it, has been wiped out. There has been a mysterious attack; whether it’s chemical or alien, it’s not clear. What seems to be clear is that the air outside is contaminated to the point of toxic to living beings. He built and fortified the shelter in preparation for doomsday. It is stocked like a real home, with the comforts of TV, music and games. The dark humor of domesticity helps lighten the claustrophobic mood.
Michelle, understandably, doesn’t buy what Howard is selling. Things shift a bit when she encounters Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.), a good-natured chap, who tells her that he’s actually there willingly. As a matter of fact, he injures his arm trying to get himself into the bunker to escape from what’s out there. They also see flickers of light and hear vociferous noises coming from outside. Even more convincingly, Michelle ends up seeing a diseased woman banging on the door, pleading to let her in, which seems proves Howard’s story. Furthermore, she also gets to know him better, finding out that he had a daughter.
Michelle lets her guard down a bit, but an incident puts her back in a full alert and survival mode. After all, it’s not that she’s never seen Howard’s bursts of temper. And there’s always an underlining uncertainty of whether or not Howard is telling the truth, and even if he is, to what extent. He can be bizarrely affable, but mostly stern and creepy.
To reveal more would be a great disservice. This is one of those rare breeds that you should go in knowing nothing. Trust that you will undergo a psychological terror of a roller-coaster, keeping you squirming at the edge of your seat. Taut script, crisp editing, alarming score, intense performances work so well together, immersing you in a paranoia-soaked experience from beginning to end. The ending is an overblown bonkers, but it doesn’t take away the shine from this suspenseful gem.
Copyright (c) 2016. Nathalia Aryani.