Continuing down the Cloverfield watching line, a few weeks ago, I got to watch 10 Cloverfield Lane, as compared to Cloverfield which I’ve seen a handful of times, I hadn’t actually seen 10 Cloverfield Lane before, it had somehow slipped by with how much I loved the first one.
Quickly, 10 Cloverfield Lane is in fact tied into Cloverfield, somehow. The plot is very different though, as compared to a situation where there is a monster attacking a city and using a found footage film to figure out what is going on, this was a crisply shot film that actually had a very small area. The vast majority of the movie is set in a small bomb shelter with three characters.
The plot of the film surrounds Michelle who was leaving her boyfriend and got into a car accident. She was knocked unconscious and when coming to, she finds herself in a bomb shelter with Howard and Emmett. Something has happened outside, they tell her, and it isn’t safe to be out there. She’s not so sure on the intentions of Howard in particular, though. Is this situation what it actually seems, or does Howard have a more nefarious plan that he is plotting?
What makes this film tick is the amazing acting. John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr make this film as Howard, Michelle, and Emmett respectively. In particular, John Goodman’s character, who is a conspiracy nut and completely paranoid about everything, is wonderfully portrayed. He gets into that character and has an amazing set of ticks that go along with it. Emmett and Michelle constantly are causing him to go into those ticks. Being that this is such a localized film where they are stuck in the bomb shelter the acting needs to be phenomenal. Without that, the film would have felt off or felt low budget. We’ll talk about feeling low budget with Cloverfield Paradox soon.
I think, one big thing to know, if my love of the first film and your love of creature features makes you want to watch all of these, is to understand that this is something very very different. While the other is a creature feature, this one is much more of psychological thriller versus a crazy alien movie. I’ve seen a few psychological thrillers before, and 10 Cloverfield Lane holds up against a lot of them. I do feel like this movie doesn’t step too far away from the original Cloverfield in that it still has the sense of mystery and wondering what is happening, just in a very different way that the original had, and I do appreciate that is what the series seems to be going for.
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
Please step back to a safe distance, please remain calm, we have the situation under control.
First thing that I want to talk about is the dichotomy of this film. There are what I would call two distinct parts to this film. The main body of 10 Cloverfield Lane is their time in the bomb shelter. This film leans into the psychological aspect of being a prisoner for Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character, Michelle. But, you always have the idea that things are way worse than it actually seems. Then you get to the world outside of the bomb shelter. One of the big mysteries of the movie, at least for about the first third, is if there is actually something going on in the outside world, then the question is if that thing is actually as bad as Howard claims. The fact that the outside world, while not quite what Howard claims has aliens roaming it is really interesting. The level of truth behind what Howard said as compared to why Howard made the claims is interesting. The whole alien sequence though does feel like it might just be a different movie, maybe the start of the 10 Cloverifeld Lane sequel.
Now, I did want to talk more about John Goodman’s performance. The ticks are amazing, and you know for a long time that John Goodman’s character is unstable and definitely has kidnapped at least a woman before and kept her trapped in the bomb shelter. Besides just the ticks that he had a wonderful moment, where, after Emmett was killed by him, he shaves. Now, you don’t see the actual act of shaving, but having had scruffy facial hair throughout the movie, and not always dressing the neatest, the second Emmett dies, he now makes his real intentions clear. It’s a very well done and generally pretty twisted in terms of how he plays the role. You always know something is off with Howard, but you don’t really get the full idea of what it is until later on.
Another interesting thing that I want to mention with this is Howard’s daughter. This is something that with a quick watch of it, might seem like situation where it’s another lie that Howard has told. However, it is something that Emmett corroborates. It leaves a ton of questions open about Howard, how he ended up that way, and so many other things that are going on with him. Did his wife and daughter leave because of his paranoia, his conspiracy theories, or is it something worse. It’s not something that the film needs to go into, but it is an interesting piece of the film. It adds to the mystery of Howard and why he is the way that he is. It’s a disturbing piece of the mystery, most definitely, but also a good piece as it doesn’t make him just a bad guy. Now, maybe he’s even a worse guy, but Emmett’s ability to talk about Howard’s life and what he’s seen of Howard before Howard kills him, of course, is interesting. Again, doesn’t make Howard less creepy, but it also doesn’t set him up just to be a bad guy for bad guys sake.
Finally, the aliens. I talked some about how this movie has two distinct parts, the part where Michelle is in the bomb shelter, and the end twenty minutes or so with the aliens. Are the aliens need for this film? I don’t really think that they are. Does it tie it more into the first Cloverfield film? I would say that it definitely does. Like I said, the part with the aliens maybe should have been at the start of Cloverfield Paradox to tie that film into the series even more so. But I’ll get that in a week or so. Again, not to take away from Howard’s creepiness in the film, but the fact that it adds some credibility to what Howard had been saying and Howard’s concern is interesting to me. Again, I think it comes down to the fact that while Howard is clearly the villain of the film, and that title is deservingly placed upon him, it’s interesting to see the nuggets of truth that he put in to build up his lie. It opens up a ton of questions about his mental state which is clearly not good and how he’s warping and justifying things in his head.
For some final thoughts, this is a great film, as in well done, good story, good acting, every piece hits in this film. John Goodman is a star of the show, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. back up that performance amazingly. It’s going to go into the rotation of films that I’ll watch every few years just because of how it tells it’s story. I want to see more films like it, where it doesn’t rely on jump scares to build up tension, but builds up mystery and suspense and horror as time goes on. It’s the classic closed world situation, where the person has to deal with everything going on around them because of the bunker. That’s something that I appreciate in a film, and to see it handled a different way than it was in Cloverfield which has a bigger closed world and has the first person view for the movie, I think it works really well. I highly recommend this film, but will warn that there are definitely parts of this film that could be triggering to people, so know that going in, have someone who has seen it before or who isn’t worried about looking up more spoilers on it to let you know.
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