10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

★★★★

 

Having skipped past this many times with minimal consideration during our movie night selections, we finally gave it  a try this week…and am I glad we did!!

I love a good thriller, which, in a very interesting contrast to its predecessor  (Cloverfield, 2008), is exactly what this is.

Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is our woman of the hour through whom we are going to experience the intriguing and confusing events that follow when she is involved in a car accident…and wakes up in a locked room. Not quite your usual woman-chained-up-and-must-fight-for-her-life flick, we are introduced to Harold (John Goodman) and Emmett (John Gallagher Junior), who insist that something terrible has happened above ground; the human race is under attack and Michelle is being kept in the bunker for her own safety.

Although Emmett seems quietly likable, Michelle is skeptical about this story of mass devastation (as are we!) -particularly as Goodman’s Harold is increasingly revealed to be somewhat unhinged. Michelle is desperate to escape. That is, until something happens that proves Harold’s theory may well be right.

Willing to accept her fate after ‘the incident’, the three start to settle into life in the bunker and form a kind of familial unit. This is, however, thrown off balance as Harold’s erratic behaviour escalates, raising questions about what kind of character he is, why he mistaken calls Michelle by his daughter’s name, what secrets he is hiding and how far he will go to get his way.

Having developed a closeness (away from Harold’s watchful eye)s, Emmett is on board with Michelle as they try to figure out a way to escape the bunker, though neither can anticipate just what lies ahead, both inside and outside of the bunker.

With average performances from Gallagher Jr and Winstead, it is John Goodman’s performance that shines through. Though we have seen him as an ex-army off-kilter type before (The Big Lebowski, 1998), here he plays this role on the other end of the spectrum, taking it from comedic reprieve to genuinely unnerving psychopath. Anyone familiar with Goodman should check out this film, just to see him as you never have before.

The intrigue and twists and turns of this movie make it a worthwhile watch. One moment you are sure of where it’s heading and in the next, you’re entirely sure it is heading in the completely opposite direction. It’s more of a mystery-thriller than anything else and you will keep you guessing until the end. What really pleased me about this movie is that it actually raised discussion points in its aftermath – and if a movie gets you talking, that’s always a good thing.

** SPOILER ALERT**

Having not seen Cloverfield for years (though this inspired a re-watch!), about all I could remember was that I was thought it was ‘pretty good’, not bad, not amazing, maybe somewhere just above ‘alright’. For the majority of 10 Cloverfield Lane, I really couldn’t decide whether this was going to be related to Cloverfield  at all. As said, this was a mystery-thriller, not a sci-fi movie (despite the conspiracy-theory undertone), with none of the characters appearing to have any connection to those in Cloverfield. Nothing seemed to connect this movie. Nothing.

Until the last 10/15 minutes.

I really admire how the interlinking of these two films was handled. Leaving the connection to the last few moments of screen time means that each of the films can stand  alone as their own  individual story, without needing its counterpart to understand or enhance the experience.

But in the typical style of projects associated with Producer J.J. Abrams,  it’s just enough of a connection to tease you. Enough to leave you with several questions: Is this set at the same time as Cloverfield, and thus the same invasion? Or is this an entirely separate occurrence? Is there a greater storyline which will culminate in the ultimate battle of the human race? Will there be another film (apparently in discussion for 2017)? If so, will this tie the stories together?

I sincerely hope that there will be a third installation to the series. Although it wouldn’t be necessary, -I don’t think any of us have lost sleep over the utter lack of an explanation as to the events of these first two films- it would be great to see it all come together.

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