Film Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane

If you’ve seen CLOVERFIELD you will love this follow-up. If you haven’t, you will love this follow-up, stand-alone horror-thriller. It’s got a smart female victim!

FEAR THE WALKING DEAD is a companion series to THE WALKING DEAD. Same premise but different set of people facing the same crisis at a different point in time – the dead are back and they are walking among us. They want to eat us, thus making us one them.

In the same vein, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is a companion to CLOVERFIELD, the 2008 hit directed by Matt Reeves. Even though producer JJ Abrams said it is not CLOVERFIELD 2 – he is selling 10 C-LANE a disservice. I know a sequel scares off people who haven’t seen the first one, but Abrams does not have the power to make that declaration and everybody going along with it.

Abrams is close, but he’s not Spielberg yet.

I am going to appease the worried Abrams: If you haven’t seen CLOVERFIELD no problem, this sequel is even better! Go see it!

I saw and remember the jerky “found video” CLOVERFIELD. My husband did not see it. Therefore, we both walked away from 10 C-LANE with enjoying the movie. My husband did not know what occurred in CLOVERFIELD, so had a completely different theory of the movie while watching it. I, of course, knew what had actually happened and still enjoyed the scenario and its outcome.

This is actually quite unique a challenge wonderfully executed by screenwriters Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken and Damien Chazelle; director Dan Trachtenberg and the 3-person cast of John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher, Jr.

Film Image - 10 Cloverfield Lane

Film Image – 10 Cloverfield Lane

Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has had a bitter breakup with her fiancé and, taking a few things, leaves New Orleans for the open road. Her boyfriend must have cheated on her with the intended Maid of Honor, so their wedding is off. Michelle has no plans as she drives at night. She’s heading towards Lake Charles but her impulsive decision gives her no time to call anyone. No one is waiting for her. The highway is strangely deserted. Suddenly, a passing truck rams into her car and she’s violently thrown off the road and rendered unconscious.

Like every woman’s driving nightmare, when she awakes, she is chained in a cement room.

When she recovers, she finds herself chained to a wall. She’s on a small mattress on a cement floor. Her leg is wrapped and she is attached to an IV. Soon she meets her abductor, bunker builder Howard (John Goodman). Howard tells Michelle that he saw the crash and rescued her. She should be thankful, he saved her life.

Eventually Howard tells Michelle that she is chained because she cannot leave. The world is under attack by a sinister force and she is in the only place that is safe. He’s been planning for this day for many years. The underground “apartment” is highly functional and is second only to Costco in supplies.

Howard is not a Mormon but he is following the church’s strong admonition to have one year’s food in storage. If Howard did not shop at Costco, there are Mormon “canneries” where anyone can buy bulk cans of food and 50lbs of grain. But it seems Howard has gone much further than a year’s supply of toilet paper. He has engineered the bunker to withstand a nuclear attack. Survivalists would hail his accomplishment.

Michelle is not alone. Hidden among the warehouse of supplies is Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.). He tells Michelle he is not a hostage at all. He spent years helping Howard build this refuge and when the attack happened, he forced his way in.

Michelle knows Howard is crazy. He’s a conspiracy nut who believes we never landed on the moon, the CIA was involved in the assassination of J.F.K., and Jews were behind 9-11. She is determined to escape while pretending to be happy creating a family-style environment in the bunker. It’s inevitable that Howard would start to lord over his instant family as he becomes more paranoid.

Michelle hears noises overhead. There are people out there. They are not alone!

Anything further would ruin Michelle’s devious plans, her inventiveness, her ungratefulness (no one has touched her), the snooping around, and the twists and turns of the plot.

What happened to Howard’s teen daughter?

Granted, no one wants to be at the mercy of a “John Goodman gone lunatic”. But, after all is said, Michelle is a bitch! Wait and see for yourself. You will agree.

With real-life abduction events truly horrific and ROOM’s Brie Larsen taking the Academy Award for Best Actress for portraying an abduction victim, 10 C-LANE is an unusual take on the genre. Michelle is a fighter. There’s no crying or screaming – she’s thinking how to escape.

I just watched the unrated MARTYRS (2008) written and directed by Pascal Laugier. MARTYRS is so deeply disturbing that Laugier recognizes the impact of this film. He appears at the beginning of the DVD and accepts all the hatred that will come his way if you watch his film. Those HOSTEL movies are pablum for Laugier.

This is John Goodman’s film and he expresses so cleverly the different aspects of Howard’s personality. This could not have been an easy role. Howard is crazy, violent and paranoid but he has moments of sincere caring, innocence and a willingness to offer his supplies of food and shelter to Michelle, and reluctantly, Emmet.

 

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Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org.

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at masauu@aol.com.

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