10 Cloverfield Lane
PARAMOUNT PICTURES (2016)
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.
2008's Cloverfield and its distant relative, 10 Cloverfield Lane, share little in common other than their name contains the same word. While there are a few hints of a stronger connection, this movie is a third-person narrative shot in a standard fashion, unlike Cloverfield's handheld camera style. Here, the film uses brief shots of an apartment, an open road, and a bunker to create a sense of claustrophobia, every door is locked, and there seems to be no privacy anywhere.
John Goodman is terrific in his role as Howard, the seemingly crazy bunker owner who is a walking conundrum. He insists that there were 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, anxiety, and a seething temper boiling away below the surface. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is also pretty faultless as Michelle, the defiant, weary hostage who starts out frantic and ends up scheming and playing the long game.
The movie is a slow burner, designed to build tension and suspense. While the film depicts the long, tedious situation the characters find themselves in, this approach didn't work for me. As the third act finally arrived, it was too little too late, and it felt too contrived to represent a worthy payoff to the build-up that preceded it.
Many of the situations were 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, and the radio turning on just by the precise road sign all seemed too forced. While I'm all for a convenient plot point if the story before it engages me, there was a lot that didn't work for me in this movie.
Cloverfield, while not incredible by any means, gave us something slightly different, and its 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. Although it has a great premise - do you trust the menacing man who has entrapped you, or do you try your luck outside in the potentially deadly air? - for all of its attempts at suspense-building, it just doesn't pay off. The directors can thank Goodman and Winstead for their efforts in the movie; otherwise, this would score lower than it does. I think I'll try my luck against the contamination.
December 10th 2016