After the rousing and surprising viral marketing and box office success of Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot Productions “Cloverfield” (2008), fans of the found footage monster movie were expecting a sequel to the open-ended finale of the first. Fast forward eight years later and they have released their supposed follow-up film, “10 Cloverfield Lane.”
Having only dropped its marketing play around January, this film came out of nowhere. The first trailer shocked fans and movie goers who are familiar with Cloverfield, as most have all but given up hope on a potential follow-up to their beloved Kaiju classic.
Originally titled “The Cellar” during production, Bad Robot Producer, JJ Abrams, has successfully kept “10 Cloverfield Lane” a secret from its target audience, and now the secrets have been revealed on screen. Many are asking if this movie is everything they think it is.
“10 Cloverfield Lane” is the type of film that is best to be enjoyed and not be spoiled before first viewing. I think this just added to my experience with this film, and so I shall keep it vague for you. “10 Cloverfield Lane” is a science fiction thriller directed by Dan Trachtenberg (in his directorial debut), written by Josh Campbell, Matthew Stucken and Damien Chazelle, and starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and John Gallagher, Jr.
The basic plot details revolve around main protagonist Michelle, played brilliantly by Winstead, escaping from a personal choice she couldn’t face and while driving away from this fate, she ends up in a car accident that knocks her out cold.
She wakes up in a concrete room chained to a wall with an IV in her arm. Her apparent captor, Howard (John Goodman), tells her that he will keep her alive and prevents her from escaping, and ending up outside, which Howard then tells her everyone outside is dead from an unknown apocalyptic event or war… so he says. We also meet Emmet, played by Gallagher Jr., a man who is also a guest inside Howard’s bunker.
From then on, anything else would be a potential spoiler for the plot, as the film takes many twists and turns that keep the viewers guessing around every bend. This is important to note to those going in expecting the same found footage tropes of the first film.
While the connections to the first film are for the viewer to find out, it must be understood going in that “10 Cloverfield Lane” is an entirely different skeleton of a film from the first one. And in my opinion, a more complex, better-directed shocking suspense thriller than “Cloverfield” could have ever been. Slowly paced, never rushing or alienating the audience with hammed in exposition, “10 Cloverfield Lane” is structurally a different film from its predecessor, but that shouldn’t turn off potential audience members.
Directed by first-time filmmaker, Dan Trachtenberg – famous for his viral successes in short films – Trachtenberg has crafted a deliciously enticing claustrophobic thriller. I don’t think a first time filmmaker has ever been able to racket up as much tension in this short amount of screen time, only running around 140 minutes.
His swift camera work, combined with all around brilliant work from the cast keep the viewer guessing motives, intentions and what is really happening outside the bunker. I feel as if the tight surroundings of the bunker worked well with the script as it feels as if the characters are really trapped inside a box and they have nowhere to go.
Bear McCreary, whose haunting score is a classic throwback to thrillers like Psycho, also does brilliant work and plays well into the Hitchcock themes in the movie. Everyone who sees this film is going to be talking about the last 20 minutes. For me, it was a perfect transition of shock and horror, and has one of the most brilliant twists I have seen recently in a movie.
If you are a fan of the original “Cloverfield,” or a fan of sci-fi thrillers in general, this is the perfect movie for you. Also, keep a lookout for all the little Easter eggs, homages and connections to other JJ Abrams work, and keep a lookout for a cameo so small, you’ll have to listen for the actor/actress’ voice.