PARAMOUNT PICTURES (2016)

Director: Dan Trachtenberg

Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.

The distant relative of 2008’s Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane shares little in common with its shared namesake – though there are a few crumbs scattered about the move to suggest a stronger link. Where Cloverfield was a dizzying handheld camera event, this movie is a third person narrative and shot in standard fashion. Sticking only to brief shots of an apartment, the open road and the fateful bunker, the movie succeeds in dishing out claustrophobia – every door is locked by unforgiving metal and there seems to be no privacy to be found anywhere.

 

John Goodman is terrific as Howard, the seemingly crazy owner of the bunker who is a walking conundrum – he is adamant there were there devastating attacks outside, but can we trust him? Is his story true? What’s his personal story? Is he hiding something? Goodman plays the part perfectly, with the right blend of sinister, goodwill and anxiety with a seething temper boiling away below the surface.

An unsettling character, and not one I’d fancy sharing a bunker with, I’ll take my chances up there! Mary Elizabeth Winstead is also pretty faultless as Michelle - the defiant, weary hostage who begins as frantic and ends up scheming and playing the long game. John Gallagher Jr.’s character was OK, he didn’t add a great deal to the movie throughout other than serving as a telegraphed beat.

The movie is what you’d call a slow burner, or in this movies case, a very slow burner. Designed to build the tension and ramp up the suspense, I found the overly long sequences of nothingness to drag on and they detracted from the movie overall. Obviously written to portray and depict the long tedious situation the characters found themselves in, it just didn’t work for me. As the third act crashed into life, it was too little too late, and also too contrived to represent a worthy payoff to the build-up that preceded it.

 

Many of the situations were also too convenient for me – the shower curtain was a perfect fit for a fallout suit? The earring that was found, the photograph that floated out of a book – just seemed too forced this time (I’m all for a convenient plot point if the story before it engaged me), the radio turning on just by the precise road sign? There was a lot that didn’t do it for me, they were the key points.

 

Cloverfield, though not incredible by any means, gave us something slightly different and it’s build-up to the payoff may have been more frantic, but it was better. 10 Cloverfield Lane just doesn’t have this going for it – it does have a great premise, do you trust the menacing man who has entrapped you or try your luck outside in the potentially deadly air? But for all its attempts at suspense building, it just does not pay off. The directors can thank Goodman and Winstead for their efforts in the movie, otherwise, this would score lower than it does.

 

I’ll try my luck against the contamination I think.

December 10th 2016

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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