After a horrible car accident, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) awakes locked in an underground bunker. The man who owns the bunker tells her that he pulled Michelle out of her car after the accident. What’s worse, he says there has been an attack. Supposedly everyone above ground is dead. Trapped in this bunker with a stranger, Michelle finds herself wondering if she is being told the truth.
I am going to do my best at reviewing this film without giving away any spoilers. To help in avoiding this, let’s start by talking about the acting instead of the plot. This was the first leading role I have seen for Mary Elizabeth Winstead (The Thing, Death Proof) in a while. She perfectly blends two opposing characteristics; she is terrified and usually panics in tough situations, yet she shows strength in her fight for survival. This sounds like it would be coming from two completely different characters, but Winstead manages to seamlessly bring these traits together in a way that makes sense for Michelle’s back story. The biggest surprise in this film was John Goodman (Roseanne, The Big Lebowski). He played the owner of the bunker, Howard, who brought Michelle down to his lair after a car accident. This is quite possibly the most disturbing character I have ever seen Goodman play, and he did a superb job. He typically plays lovable comedic characters. While Howard is still a character that is funny at times, he is also incredibly creepy. You find yourself questioning his motives throughout the film. Did he kidnap Michelle? Is he just a bit weird? Is he hiding the truth about what’s going on above ground? The third inhabitant of the bunker is Emmett, played by John Gallagher Jr. (Newsroom, Jonah Hex). The fact that I didn’t even realize this was the same actor from Newsroom just goes to show that he is incredibly talented.
10 Cloverfield Lane is very different from Cloverfield. Cloverfield was a found-footage style monster movie that was very action packed. The filmmakers took a different approach for 10 Cloverfield Lane. This film focused much more on intrigue. Being trapped in a windowless bunker with no means of communicating with the outside world, it is impossible to know if Howard is telling the truth. The setting makes you feel claustrophobic, while Howard and his stories give you a feeling of paranoia. One of the most successful aspects of the plot in this film is the number of twists. Obviously, there is going to be a huge twist ending, but there are smaller twists leading up to the big finale. These twists add to the paranoia because you are never fully aware of what is going to happen next. You are forced to follow the clues along with Michelle and Emmett. Without giving anything away, I can tell you that the end of this film will likely divide viewers. Some people will absolutely love it, and some will hate it.
There has been a ton of hype about this film. Most of it has surrounded speculation as to whether or not 10 Cloverfield Lane is a sequel to Cloverfield. Again, without giving too much away, I can tell you that there really is no answer to this question. After watching the film, I could see it being both a sequel and a stand-alone film. I believe the filmmakers purposely created a film that could go either way, leaving it up to the audience to decide if they thought it was a sequel or not. This was incredibly smart because it allowed them to use the Cloverfield name in all their advertising, bringing in fans of the first film, while also giving them the freedom to come up with a new story without being constrained by what took place in the first.
Whether this film is a sequel or not, it was a very entertaining experience. It was so intense right from the start, and it didn’t let up until the epic climax. The climax was probably one of the biggest movie twists I have seen in a long time. It was something I never saw coming and it made everything even more exciting. 10 Cloverfield Lane is an intense ride that constantly throws you for a loop the minute you start to feel like you know what is going on. It has something that will appeal to horror fans that are looking for more of a mystery, as well as those that want a lot of action.
OVERALL RATING: 8/10