Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr, Suzanne Cryer
Written by: Damien Chazelle, (also story) Matthew Stuecken and Josh Campbell
Running Time: 103 mins
Release date: 18th March 2016
I am furious! Up to the final 10 minutes of this incredibly tense and gripping thriller, it was hitting all the right notes for a five-star movie. Then, and without giving anything away, it goes and spoils it with an ending that just doesn’t fit with the rest of this exceptional movie, that, if you are looking for a sequel to the 2008 sci-fi smash, Cloverfield, you may be disappointed. This could be more closely related to Room than to the J.J. Abrams found footage film.
Michelle has left her boyfriend and is heading somewhere when she is involved in a car accident, leaving her unconscious. Waking up, she finds herself in an underground bunker belonging to Howard, a paranoid man who claims that there has been an attack and it is no longer safe to go outside. Michelle discovers another person sharing the bunker, Emmett, who, with an injured arm, confirms Howard’s story. However, there is something not right about Howard and Michelle doesn’t know if he is telling the truth or harboring a dark secret.
Newcomer director Dan Trachtenberg delivers an incredibly claustrophobic tale that drip feeds us information, leaving us as confused and clueless as the main character, Michelle. Who is Howard? Why has she been taken to this place? Why does he have an underground bunker? Who is Emmett and why is he there? Answering all these questions would be spoiling what is, for the most part, one of the most gripping and nail-biting thrillers since Sicario.
Yet as you watch, you start to question the connection to the Matt Reeves directed 2008 sci-fi drama, in which a giant monster attacks New York as filmed by party goers. This doesn’t use the found footage cliches to tell its tale. It is certainly not New York and the only monster seems to be Howard…or is he? The film is nothing more than massively ambiguous, trusting the audience to be patient when it comes to information.
It is in the final ten minutes that becomes frustrating. It’s as if the scriptwriters had to tie all the loose ends up somehow and soon goes the whole ambiguous feeling that had been built up over the previous 90 minutes for something completely different and obvious.
The performances are exceptional from the three characters trapped in the bunker. John Gallagher Jr, who was in the drama Short Term 12, brings a lightness as Emmett, while Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who has been on the edge of stardom for so many years, finally is given a decent part that should propel her into the big league. As Michelle, we see everything from her point of view, as well as experiencing her emotions and fears. The film’s real trump card is John Goodman as Howard. A powerful performance as a man on the verge of eruption, he holds so many secrets and threat. Every scene he brings a real sense of menace.
10 Cloverfield Lane is a superb thriller that has you hooked from moment one and refuses to let you go. Go and experience this with as little information as possible, but leave before the end, otherwise, you too will be as frustrated and annoyed as I was.