Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), leaves her apartment and, teary-eyed, sets off on the open road to start anew. Careening along a dark highway she fumbles with her phone as her husband, Ben (Bradley Cooper in a voice over cameo) pleads with her to return. She hardly notices the truck that slams into her car, sending it charging over the embankment and rolling down the hill, coming to rest in the gully below.
Michelle wakes up in a coldly lit, cinder block room, chained to a wall. She has been looked after, treated for wounds, and her items are neatly placed on the floor in a corner. Her caretaker is Howard (John Goodman), a lumbering schlub that claims the outside world has ended and that the two of them, along with one other occupant in the bunker are the only humans left alive. We next meet Emmet (John Gallagher Jr.), an easy going country boy who assures Michelle that the world outside has indeed been ravaged, going so far as to explain that he begged Howard to let him into the bunker.
The three do their best to pass the time and coexist in the small, 4-rooms, 40 feet below ground. They play well-worn board games, puzzles, and they even listen to the music on a classic jukebox machine. The only problems arise when anyone questions Howard’s mandates within his little haven. One wrong word at the dinner table sets him off on a tirade that spirals into diatribes on how his preparedness saved their lives. It’s these episodes, coupled with hints at a far darker history, that drive Michelle to question things and attempt escape.
10 Cloverfield Lane plays as a sort of lateral sequel to the original Cloverfield. Called a “blood-relative” of the 2008 original by Producer J.J. Abrams, the film dispatches with the original’s found footage gimmick, playing it as a straight movie. The performances of the three leads are all very, very strong. Winstead’s Michelle is not a helpless female, but a perseverant, determined woman who exudes independence. Gallagher is steady and at times funny in tense situations. However this movie is Goodman’s. He could be dipping his toe into Oscar territory with a portrayal that is positively chilling. He stomps around the tight quarters like a manic grizzly bear, one minute nurturing, the next minute enraged and potentially deadly. Look for him at awards time.
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg the film is surprisingly fast paced, despite the claustrophobic setting. Written by Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, Damien Chapelle we are made to focus on the smaller sections of the bunker, the bedrooms, the kitchen, the dinner table, the ventilation ducts, instead of the one small space. Scenes are carefully calculated and play out as a tense psychological thriller. Is Howard telling the truth? Of course he is, the movie has already been touted as part of the Cloverfield universe. Does this spoiler ruin the film? Not one bit. The bigger problem might be the overbearing score that seems a little too insistent on making sure you know how to feel in a tense bunker.
The film is playing now on theaters and in IMAX. Our advice, skip the IMAX. There is no conceivable reason to see a film set in a 4-room bunker on the nation’s largest screens. Check out 10 Cloverfield Lane for a tense, white-knuckle ride with a heroine worth rooting for.
|10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)|
|Directed By:||Dan Trachtenberg|
|Written By:|| Josh Campbell,