10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

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As is my ritual, I am returning to this blog in the wake of exams. However, I thought it might be nice to do a (spoiler-free!) review of this great movie with my new 20-year-old perspective (i.e. my 19 year old one except with worse language skills). I’ve also wanted to see this movie ever since I came across the very cool trailer (below), on one of my many late night youtube rendezvouses.

10 Cloverfield Lane is a bloody excellent film. Its narrative focuses on Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who finds herself in an underground bunker after a car accident, seemingly abducted by the hulking Howard (John Goodman). Her other bunker-mate is comedic relief/ultimate good guy Emmett (John Gallagher Jr), who is a willing inhabitant of the fully equipped doomsday shelter. Michelle is not a typical damsel in distress – she is resourceful within her means and tenacious to a T. We watch as she tries to make head and tail of Howard’s motives, living 6-feet under 10 Cloverfield Lane.

It’s hard to write a proper review, because what 10 Cloverfield Lane boils down to is a psychological thriller. It’s the type of movie where you can’t believe what you see, despite all signs pointing to an obvious answer. A major character of contention is Howard. John Goodman’s portrayal is the type of one I think he should win awards for, but I know he won’t because this movie isn’t Oscar-bait. At times he is ominous and entitled. Other times he’s the kind of no-bullshit person who is necessary to save Michelle and Emmett from what is above the bunker. He can fly into rages for no good reason, but his logic for doing so is technically sound. He is warm and creepy and he unabashedly dances to music playing on the jukebox. It is thrilling to watch.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead is an actress for whom I think mainstream success has been a long time coming. Her roles in Smashed (2012) and Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010) charmed me, and I’ve been a fan ever since. Michelle is the perfect heroine for this film. As I mentioned earlier, she isn’t ridiculously smart or qualified but she is so smart. It stops you from bashing your head against the seat in front of you and, man, that is such a relief. Instead of thriving on cheap “gotchas” and jump scares, 10 Cloverfield Lane plays with characters that are complicated and despite it all, want to survive life in the bunker. Her comradery with Emmett is a source of lightness in this dark film. Their sibling-like relationship in this fucked up family was very sweet.  I wish I could write more about her but whilst Howard sets the tone for the film, Michelle drives the plot.

I can’t say too much more without Giving Anything Away, so what I will say is: this is a good old thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat but isn’t painful to watch. It has solid characters who are quick-witted in dire situations. And there are so many twists that aren’t contrived I wanted to worship at the altar of J.J. Abrams. It’s a good one, people.

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016): 9/10

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