In a surprise move out of left field, the found-footage, shaky-cam monster movie and moderate 2008 hit, ‘Cloverfield’ gets a quasi-sequel in the form of a claustrophobic, Hitchcockian thriller set in a fallout bunker. ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ is a throwback film that relies on visual cues, body language, and a cleverly unfolding screenplay that keeps the audience in the dark for the majority of its’ run time. While rumination after experiencing the film may expose some messy plot holes, during the duration of the experience, the actors keep you guessing and enthralled.
The mystery opens on Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Michelle, a character running from something personal. She is shockingly derailed while traversing an ominous dark road and ‘saved’ by John Goodman’s Howard, a doomsday prepper who locks her up in his meticulously designed underground bunker to protect her from an unknown apocalyptic threat. They are joined by John Gallagher Jr.’s Emmett, a seemingly dense young man in the bunker by his own choice. The two younger characters serve to counter balance Goodman’s fully realized one, his playing of Howard as a tightly wound and old-fashioned guy who seems to be both eerily prescient and unhinged at the same time.
It’s hard to say more about the movie without ruining the driving mysteries of events inside and outside of the bunker as well as inside and outside these characters’ minds. The film works well as an unfolding psychological thriller buoyed by fear of the unknown. The actors effectively convey resourcefulness, regret, and survival instinct, physically, psychologically, and emotionally. Rookie director Trachtenberg is effective in his own right, coaxing convincing performances out of the actors and jolting the audience with well-framed scenes of tension and shock. While far from the perfect little movie it is trying for, ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ is an engaging diversion throughout its’ running time . . .
Directed By: Dan Trachtenberg
Written By: Josh Campbell, Matthew Sturcken, & Damien Chazelle
Running Time: 103 min.
* * * (out of 4 stars) -OR- B