10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Two months ago, no one knew that 10 Cloverfield Lane existed, let alone was about to be wide released in theaters. One month ago, no one had any idea how, if at all, this film was related to the 2008 film Cloverfield except for the obvious title and the fact that J.J. Abrams’ name was tied to the project. Not sure how Abrams had time with Star Wars: The Force Awakens to hide this project from the world, but I’m glad he did.

One of the greatest things 10 Cloverfield Lane has to offer is that the audience really has no idea what to expect going into the film. Very much in the J.J Abrams way, the production for this film has been left completely under-wraps and the trailers have revealed next to nothing. That’s one of the best parts of the movie, so I’m not going to spoil or give anything away in my synopsis or the review. I won’t even tell you if this movie is indeed a Cloverfield sequel or if it’s something different altogether. You’ll have to find out for yourself. But I will say that it is worth checking out whether or not you have any knowledge of Cloverfield. It only cost a measly 15 million to make this film and it nearly doubled that on its opening night. It’s a good film all by itself. It won’t win any Oscars, but it was compelling and fun.

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A woman we know very little about named Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is involved in a car crash in a breath taking opening credit sequence. She wakes up a few days later to find herself in an underground bunker with Howard (John Goodman), a large and crazy-eyed farmer standing above her. He tells her that she can’t leave, because some sort of disaster has happened and it’s not safe to go outside. Finding herself alone with Howard and another man named Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), and I’m stealing their tag line here because it’s a dang good tag line, they find out that monsters come in many forms.

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Obviously, I had no idea to expect when I saw 10 Cloverfield Lane. No one did. But within the first five minutes they set the tone so you know what kind of movie they are going for, and I found myself instantly engaged. For the rest of the film, I was floored with what was going on. In his directorial debut, Dan Trachtenberg takes the reigns on creating a film that will hit you with the unexpected, and leave you shocked.

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The best word I could think of to describe this film while I was watching it was claustrophobic. Trapped with Michelle inside the bunker, they create such an intense and nervous atmosphere that you feel yourself getting antsy along with the characters. Because for almost the whole film, we don’t really know what’s going on. We know what Howard is telling us and leading us to believe, but we have no idea if that’s reliable or not. We discover things along with the characters, which is why this film is such a good build up. When the conclusion to the film finally comes, you will leave more than satisfied. But don’t ruin it for yourself by looking up online spoilers to see if it is a Cloverfield sequel. See the movie. Find out for yourself. It’s worth it.

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The stand-out performance of the film is John Goodman. He is in so many films every year that we sometimes take him for granted and forget how good of an actor he can be when he’s not mailing it in, but rather commits whole heartedly to a role. That’s what happens here. He could have easily over-cooked his performance where it came of as cartoony or unrealistic, but he hit just the right level of disturbing and off-putting where you are crept out by the guy but you can’t be sure if he’s in the right or wrong. It’s a performance similar to Joel Edgerton’s in The Gift.

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At no point of 10 Cloverfield Lane does the film slow down or lose interest. It uses it’s hour and forty five minute runtime (a surprisingly long one for this type of film) to achieve the best possible effects. The film flies by and I found myself never wanting it to be over.

10 Cloverfield Lane is a movie you should see without being tainted by spoilers. Accept that you know nothing about it going in, and enjoy that experience. Because it’s something that doesn’t happen often and it’s a rare gift when it does. 10 Cloverfield Lane has a lot to offer despite the fact that it’s a very small film. So if it is still playing near you, go see it this weekend. Don’t look for other trailers or read other reviews. Just go, then come back here and tell me what you thought.

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