Saturday, July 16, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane

Michelle flees her home in New Orleans after a fight with her boyfriend. Late at night in a rural area, the radio reports about blackouts in major cities. Distracted by that and a call from her boyfriend, she doesn't see the truck that hurtles into her car, leaving her unconscious. She wakes up in an underground bunker in what looks like a jail cell. The man who claims to have saved her is Howard. He also claims that the world is uninhabitable and they can never leave the bunker. She's resistant at first, but then meets another survivor named Emmett. An escape attempt leaves her believing Howard after what she saw through the window, but is Howard really as benevolent as he says?

I didn't enjoy the original Cloverfield because it focused on the most privileged and boring characters who I couldn't bring myself to care about. This film is completely different and solves that problem nicely. The bunker setting is incredibly claustrophobic and the bulk of the film is completely dependent on the performances of the two main characters: Michelle and Howard. Michelle's first urge is to run when something goes wrong whether it's a fight with her boyfriend or an apparent apocalypse. Of course she distrusts Howard as he locked her up in a cell and won't let her near any entrances. She proves to be incredibly resourceful and uses her skills as a designer and a seamstress in ways I didn't expect. Never completely trusting Howard, she tries to utilize safeguards and always looks for ways of escape. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is one of the best final girls in the last few years because she balanced using her skills and being capable with feeling fear and grief.

Howard, on the other hand, is very capable, eerily prepared for such an event, and unstable. He isn't afraid to do what he thinks is for the greater good even if it's incredibly monstrous. He simply won't see it that way. Conflict and tension revolve around him. The first part of the film's suspense is due to if he's telling the truth about the outside world being uninhabitable. When it's revealed he is, that settles down, but his emotional outbursts triggered by just about anything keep that tension going. John Goodman is frightening in this role. He could be fairly even keeled one moment and then lash out the next. The second part of the film is focused on getting to know him more and discovering if the others are in danger by being in such close quarters to him. His action near the end of the film needs to be seen to be believed.

10 Cloverfield Lane is a suspenseful film that has excellent performances and masterfully built suspense. It's clear the Cloverfield stamp was added later since this film has virtually nothing in common with the original movie. This film is unique in that it takes place during an apocalypse situation and then extends past it. What are survivors to do? How will they live in this much different world? Without going into any detail, I loved the ending. It was completely unexpected and well done. The effects looked amazing. I would love to see a sequel.

My rating: 8/10 fishmuffins

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