Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up in an underground bunker with two men, believing herself to being held captive by Howard (John Goodman). She soon learns that America has come under an apocalyptic attack and prepares herself to settle into life underground – but is about to discover that not everything is as it seems…..

The film opens with Michelle as she packs her bags, flees New Orleans and a broken relationship. It’s almost a completely wordless sequence, disturbed only by her ex-fiancee pleading with her on speakerphone as she drives across rural highways. Suddenly, her car is rammed off the road, causing it to flip and audiences a shock scare – the first of many intense moments throughout. Michelle wakes up, injured and chained to a wall in an underground bunker, desperate to escape. However, she soon meets her inmates, Howard (Goodman) and Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) who explain that the earth above them is no longer safe, destroyed by some kind of nuclear or chemical attack. Realizing she is going to be there quite a while, Michelle begins to adjust to her new life; yet she can’t shake a feeling that something more sinister is going on.

The narrative wastes no time in getting started. Emmett is introduced almost immediately and acts as an excellent curve-ball in the narrative building blocks. As a central conceit, his presence causes many questions and places a constant element of doubt in the spectator’s mind. Is Howard really telling the truth (as the evidence suggests), or is something else at play? These constant questions and twists project Michelle’s uncertainty on to us constantly, a fantastic tool which keeps us on the edge of our seats and aids the narrative, beautifully. Though, on the surface, Howard appears to be a good guy – constantly reminding the pair that he saved their lives – he is also strange and with a temper. As time passes by, Michelle cannot shake the feeling of doubt, digging deeper and finding clues that suggest Howard’s dark past – threatening both hers and Emmett’s safety and everything they’ve been led to believe.

With such a limited landscape, the narrative relies heavily on the screenplay and its cast for its success. First time director, Dan Trachtenberg, does an excellent job of creating a claustrophobic environment inside the bunker. Though some of the dialogue is a little ropey, Goodman offers a stellar performance which keeps us on our toes. His lifeless expressions keep us forever guessing who he really is whilst his outbursts are utterly chilling. By far, Goodman is the best thing about the film, on a long list of its achievements. One criticism of his character, however, is that we never really, fully have closure. The evidence presented and subtle suggestions do leave audiences to make up their own mind and piece the narrative together how they see fit.

Though Trachtenberg was new to the role of director, he had an outstanding team behind him to bring the film to life. A supposed sequel to the original Cloverfield (J.J Abrams, 2008), 10 Cloverfield Lane certainly stands on it’s own, as well as a successful sequel. Trachtenberg could not have had a more impressive team to help kickstart his career as a director. For one, he had a screenplay co-written by Damien Chazelle of Whiplash (2014) fame, J.J Abrams himself as a producer and, of course, Abrams’ production team, Bad Robot, for added support. Combined with an excellent cast and well-written narrative, it is no surprise that 10 Cloverfield Lane is an excellent piece of cinema.

Ultimately, the film is a suspense-thriller with that classic Abrams you-didn’t-see-that-coming-twist. Its narrative winds you tighter and tighter before its secrets come gushing out in one explosive finale. However, I cannot help but feel as though it let itself down at the last hurdle. The final fifteen to twenty minutes of the film are very messy and somewhat rushed. Even more so, they are inconsistent with the rest of the film. Whilst the finale does not spoil the rest of the film itself, I do feel it brought down the tone a little. It does also make way for another sequel although I personally believe the franchise is perfect with just the two productions.

Overall, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a fantastic suspense film. Goodman offers up an incredible performance whilst audiences are left constantly feeling off-kilter as the narrative twists and turns at every corner.

 

Movie Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane
4.0Overall Score
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About The Author

Sophie Elizabeth

Sophie is a film blogger from South London with a degree in Film Theory and Major Production. Sophie currently works in digital marketing but in her spare time you'll find her writing reviews or at the cinema. Sophie loves all things Star Wars and Hollywood but having specialized in the Horror genre, monsters are her first love. She'll watch absolutely anything given the chance - you can find her also on her blog, http://www.popcornandglitter.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophieathawes