Is this only a Cloverfield film in name? I’d only assume so because I saw no resemblance to the first Cloverfield up until the ending came about, but before all of that happened, what we had was something that could have been rather great. Initially I felt skeptical as I had disliked Cloverfield but coming out of 10 Cloverfield Lane turned out to be quite a nice surprise for myself. This was a great film, one that I loved while it lasted, up until one critical moment felt so much like a nosedive in my eyes.
In the manner that Cloverfield recreates the hysteria from post-9/11 trauma, 10 Cloverfield Lane tackles a much smaller idea, just in the means of capturing a sense of claustrophobia and paranoia within the feeling of being sheltered, kept away from the outside world. At that, it’s very successful and it even had myself waiting for much more. Yet while I liked the product it leaves us, I feel I may have expected way too much considering how excellently everything was being built up.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman steal the show. It’s nice to see John Goodman taking on a role much like this as a means of contrasting what sort of energy he were to show when he worked with the Coen brothers, roles where he are sure to recognize him most. Winstead’s performance was what I felt made the film for myself, for she offers what drew back to her scream queen days in horror films and racks up what range she’s shown in her most impressive roles of recent note, it’s something that makes everything worth my time.
What also helps is how tightly everything is put together thanks to the script. Perhaps what helps is the fact one of the contributors to the screenplay was Damien Chazelle, who had also written and directed the excellent Whiplash, a film so tightly put together thanks to the writing and nerve-wracking when called for. With such a tight script and a stellar cast, it could only seem as if 10 Cloverfield Lane could be an excellent claustrophobic thriller, then a critical moment came along.
In regards to the critical moment, I refer to most of the ending. Given the sheer fact that the film’s title is 10 Cloverfield Lane, what is the relation that it has to Cloverfield? Seeing as the original working title was The Cellar, was it really necessary to shoehorn everything in when the ending came as a means of tying it all together to Cloverfield? It really detracted for myself especially as I felt nothing was established that tied everything to Cloverfield and the ending only were to remind me of the haphazard writing that plagued the first film, something that’s only thrown in for its own sake. I feel it completely contrasted the tone being established prior, and to some extent, almost ruined what was a fantastic paranoia thriller.
At the very least 10 Cloverfield Lane is better an experience than the headache inducing original, given the fact that the found footage format is completely removed. 10 Cloverfield Lane is as tense a paranoia thriller as it needs to be, it captures that very feel and is helped thanks to wonderful performances from the cast. It’s definitely worth a go, but the ending just killed so much that I feel could have worked so seamlessly. I definitely liked it enough, I’ll take watching this again over getting another headache from the found footage format.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Paramount.
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg
Screenplay by Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken, Damien Chazelle
Produced by J. J. Abrams, Lindsey Webber
Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher, Jr.
Release Year: 2016
Running Time: 103 minutes