10 Cloverfield Lane: the movie that came out of nowhere and ended up being one of the coolest films of this year so far. The surprising sequel to the monster flick that made me almost throw up in the theater back in 2008 (and no, not from being bad or gross, but that camera shake was something else, wasn’t it?). Don’t worry, the camera shake is gone, and what we have in 10 Cloverfield Lane is an entirely new experience set in the same world as the original. So lets take a dive in and see what we’ve got.
The Movie (5/5)
As mentioned in one of the special features included on the disc, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a story of what ifs. Specifically, what if you woke up from a car wreck, chained in place in a locked room that sorta looked like it belongs in a murderer’s dungeon? What would you do if John Goodman comes into the room, puts down some food and tells you that he saved your life, that there’d been an attack, and that everyone you know is dead? 10 Cloverfield Lane sets out to answer these questions.
Not what you’re expecting in a sequel to Cloverfield? You are not alone. The announcement and subject matter of this film came as a great surprise to just about everyone.
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg (in his first major film as Director) and Produced by J.J. Abrams, this movie explores more into the invasion that we see in Cloverfield with almost no monster screen time. In fact, the vast majority of our time in this film is spent in the cramped and claustrophobic underground bunker of Howard, a paranoid veteran played by the ever fantastic John Goodman.
The film begins as we follow Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) fleeing the city from an argument with her boyfriend. As she focuses on her phone instead of the road, she ends up flipping her car. She wakes up, as mentioned above, inside the bunker with two other inhabitants, Howard and Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.). This is a jarring experience, for sure, but more importantly it sets up the crux of this film – was she brought here to safety by an awkward vet, or was she abducted and being lied to about an invasion that she knows nothing about.
This uncertainty in Michelle’s mind is what makes this film stand out. Throughout the story you will learn new clues to Howard’s motives and the state of the world itself, and, as time goes on, you will find yourself waffling back and forth about whether you trust the man or not. Emmett, who helped Howard build the bunker and saw the beginning of the invasion seems to trust their host, but is there more to the story that maybe he doesn’t know?
The cramped, tight space in the bunker plays a big role in setting the tone, intermixing claustrophobia inducing shots when Michelle fears or suspects Howard with an almost cheerful, home-like feeling when she starts to believe him. This game of tug of war goes back and forth a few times, draws you into the story, and latches onto you.
For a film with essentially three characters, acting is extremely important. In what might be the role of his already lauded career, Goodman absolutely was meant to play Howard. Playing into the paranoia and social awkwardness with a constant state of suspicion, the man comes across as absolutely terrifying – even more so than the possibility of nuclear war or an alien invasion. Winstead plays her role spot on and is extremely believable as the scared victim who has to problem solve her way out of her situation. Finally, Gallagher Jr. does a great job as the intermediary between these two highly opposite cohabitants.
While this film is almost nothing like Cloverfield, it does explore the same invasion – just from a wildly different angle. However, it is much more than just a sequel. This movie would absolutely stand on it’s own, and is quite likely to appeal to a wider audience.
The Picture 5/5
For a film that takes place in an underground bunker, there is a surprising range of detail to be seen in this film. Textures stand out and look as though they pop off of the screen. The dark sequences all display true blacks, with intricate details still showing perfectly. Skin tones all look on point, and the colors are vibrant, especially considering the location. Overall this film looks beautiful.
The Sound 5/5
The sound design in 10 Cloverfield Lane plays an important role in the film itself. From the dreadful, strange tones that make up the soundtrack, to the wide range of sound effects that remind you that you are underground and enclosed, all of the sounds used work wonders on the psyche.
The disc includes the Dolby Atmos track, for those with the proper setup, and it uses the technology quite well. Each and every channel is used in creative ways, with a good example being scenes where Howard is heard walking towards Michelle’s room while she frantically hides a project she is working on. Each step feels as its just beyond your own wall and you will swear you hear someone walking towards you. Little effects like these add to the tension and makes for a chilling experience.
The Features & Packaging 4/5
10 Cloverfield Lane has a standard release, with an amaray case inside a half-slip. This review covers the Best Buy Exclusive SteelBook version, which features an attractive blue and red design in a neat artstyle. There is artwork on the inside, where you will also find a Blu-ray which has the film and special features, and a DVD with just the film. Also included is a UV copy of 10 Cloverfield Lane and Cloverfield.
The one disappointment in this package is the limited set of special features. Included are a handful of short featurettes covering an array of topics as discussed by various cast and crew. These are very well put together, and quite interesting. There just isn’t enough here to satisfy. There is also a commentary with the director, Dan Trachtenberg, and producer J.J. Abrams. This is a recommended listen and is quite entertaining.
- Bunker Mentality
- Duck and Cover
- Kelvin Optical
- Fine Tuned
- End of Story
The Verdict 4.5/5
While this film sort of came out of nowhere, it’s cemented itself as one of the top releases of the year so far, and will surely find it’s way on several top lists for 2016 (which is saying something as this has been a tremendous year for movies). I highly recommend this film, even if you didn’t care for Cloverfield. This movie extends beyond its predecessor and crosses genres to become its own unique, fascinating venture.