As promised in my “Top 5 Horror Movies of 2016” post, this is my full 10 Cloverfield Lane review. I must admit that a J.J. Abrams produced “blood relative” of the 2008 film Cloverfield did not appeal to me at first. Cloverfield was an average flick in my opinion, and my relationship with JJ Abrams has always flipped between love (Lost S1-3, Westworld, Star Trek) and hate (Lost S4-5, Star Trek). However, I had read many good reviews about 10 Cloverfield Lane, and thus felt it might be worthy of my time. How very right these reviews were! While I wouldn’t necessarily categorize this film as horror, I will say that this film is one of the best of 2016, in any genre.
While not exactly a sequel, 10 Cloverfield Lane presents a different perspective of the 2008 found footage film, but works as it’s own entity as well. The premise is simple enough. Michelle Elizabeth Winstead plays Michelle, a young woman who leaves her fiancée and drives off into the night, only to get into a terrible car accident. She wakes up in a cell, and is told by her captor, Howard, played by John Goodman that they are safely hidden in a bunker, the world above them in the midst of a doomsday attack. What starts off as the beginnings of another survivalist/torture porn horror films turns into something much more interesting and creative, evolving into a tense thriller with hints of sci-fi. The film slowly builds tension, never allowing you to get too comfortable, and keeps you questioning the outcome, despite the title.
John Goodman is fantastic in a subtle, creepy performance. Shifting eyes and awkward social behavior bring about nervous laughter, but he keeps us on edge, holding back so that we never know what will set him off. Michelle is strong and relatable, who keeps you rooting for her until the very end. Winstead plays her with a balanced amount of strength and caution, as we uncover her new surroundings with her. Her character makes rational decisions and learns and grows in a logical way that wraps up the movie nicely.
The film is ultimately satisfying, avoiding stereotypical genre clichés and really engaging the audience from the moment we wake up with Michelle in her cell. A solid, well crafted story that kept me on the edge of my seat, it presents a new way of handling sequels and invasion stories, quietly asking: “where were you when this happened?”.
Did you like my 10 Cloverfield Lane review? What would you do if there was a zombie apocalypse?
Directed by: Dan Trachtenberg
Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.