Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane
J.J. Abrams was originally involved in the creation of Cloverfield and now this new film is a part of the same universe. The world we live in today has tons of sequels and expanded universes yet 10 Cloverfield Lane is a completely different film from the one before it. Cloverfield was a monster film, while 10 Cloverfield Lane shows us that monsters can come in many different forms. For instance, the tagline of the film even tells us this as does John Goodman's character. 10 Cloverfield Lane also borrows some of the same lore from the original Cloverfield film allowing audiences to realize that the two films due exist in the same universe. For 10 Cloverfield Lane, both Matt Reeves and JJ Abrams couldn't direct it as they were busy with other bigger projects thus Abrams reached out to a new director known as Dan Trachtenberg who did an amazing job. This film is a small, claustrophobic and intimate thriller that may actually manage to be one of the better thrillers as of late.
The plot follows Megan (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who decides to skip out on her boyfriend only to get into an accident. When she wakes up she finds herself in a bunker chained to a wall while an IV is in her arm. Her captor, Howard (John Goodman) explains to her that he had saw her car on the side of the road and saved her life in more ways then she knows as the world had also ended. Over the time that she had been knocked out he tells her that there was an attack and that anyone above ground is dead. Megan finds another person inside the bunker, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.). Emmett tells her that he rushed to the bunker as soon as he saw a big red explosion of sorts in the city and that Howard was resistant to him but he had to fight to get in. Megan struggles to believe all of this and even more so when she realizes that something is off about Howard. Thus she begins to try to find a way out of the bunker and away from her captor.
It is incredibly impressive how well directed and shot this film is by Dan Trachtenberg who up until this film has a very small resume. Through his direction, the bunker itself becomes a character of it's own due to how it adds to the tension and helps add to a claustrophobic feeling. The threat of an alien attack is nothing in comparison to the overwhelming sense of dread given by how Megan is stuck inside this bunker with a man that is seemingly psychotic. In the hands of a lesser director this film could have very easily falling into cliché. It is also a big credit to the writers Josh Campbell and Matthew Stucken as they helped create fully realized characters. Mary Elizabeth Winstead's Megan is an incredibly strong woman that refuses to give up and has a lot of fight to her which the audience sees immediately . This courage she has inside of her endears us to her right away. Most films now shows off a character and how the work through their own dialogue but the characters in this film are understated. You get a good sense of what they are feeling or who they are as people in how they act which is a huge compliment to both the acting and writing.
John Goodman's portrayal of Howard is truly terrifying but also kind of heart breaking. He is terrifying in the sense that by the end you are scared of him as he is a man that is a bit unhinged. However, you can empathize with him due to his performance it allows the audience to get the sense that he knows more then he is letting on about the bigger situation outside the bunker but underneath it all there is a man dealing with a lot of pain. He doesn't know how to deal with that pain in a positive way and thus it turns him into a monster. His intentions may be good, but there is a feeling that is overall humanity may be lost which he shows that he struggles with. The other star of the film is Mary Elizabeth Winstead. She has a penchant for playing strong independent female roles and continues that trend with her character, Megan. She is instantly likable in the part due to her courage but we don't get a view into her life or who she is like we do with Howard. Instead she is this unstoppable force of nature that never gives up no matter what the situation is.