Found footage monster thriller, 'Cloverfield', came out in 2008 to mixed reviews. Its shaky, raw camera footage generated a sense of realism that was supposed to create an authentic atmosphere, giving the audience the feeling of witnessing something that actually happened. The whole spectacle worked well but lacked cohesion and purpose that affected the overall impact. I for one was left a little confused about what was happening, possibly mimicking the emotions of the young actors that appeared in the film. '10 Cloverfield Lane' has been promoted as a distant cousin of this Gen Y original piece but what we have here is a return to a more traditional thriller that works its magic very well. '10 Cloverfield Lane' keeps you guessing all the way through the 103 minutes of running time setting itself in a more personal and private situation that creates a considerably greater atmosphere of anxiety than its blood relative.
Young Directorial debutant, Dan Trachtenburg has been given his shot at impressing the big boys at Paramount Pictures and he hasn't done his reputation any harm. Backed up by Executive Producer, J.J. Abrams Bad Robot Production Company and young Danny is ticking all the right boxes in front of some very powerful Hollywood heavyweights. His niche seems to be the suspenseful situation of the thriller and with a first time production such as '10 Cloverfield Lane', Trachtenberg come become the top 'go to' director of the genre. He has made a compact, intimate thriller that oozes an anxious and awkward mood that never allows the audience to comfortably settle into a predictable state of mind. The viewer always asks the question; Is it or isn't it? - when it comes to the context of the story. Originally based on a script that had nothing to do with the "Cloverfield" timeline, the narrative was re-worked by Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken into a 'Cloverfield' sequel that never becomes to complicated but rather relies on a single setting that is easy to follow. Like all good thrillers, '10 Cloverfield Lane' simmers away under the surface with well timed bursts of body jolting suspense that inevitably builds up to the climax.
Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a woman that is going through a difficult period in her relationship. Whilst driving alone in her car on a seemingly quiet and uneventful night, she is driven off the road in a high impact collision that was never seen coming. When she awakes, Michelle finds herself in a room on a matress with her injuries carefully tended to. A strange, off-beat man reveals himself to her as Howard (John Goodman) who tells her that she has been saved from a catastrophic disaster that has left the breathable air, toxic. Michelle is in a bunker, far underground with no knowledge of what is actually happening in the world above. For her own sanity, the young woman welcomes the discovery of another member of this strange abode, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), who is an acquaintance of this mysteriously unhinged Howard. As the film progresses, layers start to form around the narrative that immediately keeps the audience guessing.
There is not much to the cast as it revolves around three characters but each are absolutely necessary. Relative unknowns Winstead and Gallagher Jr. put in some very engaging performances as the two young occupants. Both are believable playing their roles that will no doubt catch the eye of potential employers in the future. Michelle and Emmett are characters that provide great exposure for young actors but create very little obstacles in terms of creativity. The real meat in the sandwich is John Goodman as the uneasy, socially awkward sociopath, Howard. The man is a volcano waiting to erupt with a mood that ultimately encompasses the whole production. I love Goodman and this is without doubt his best role since his star turn in the Coen Brothers, 'The Big Lebowski'.
'10 Cloverfield Lane' is a good strong thriller. Watching John Goodman work through his very disturbing character is worth the price of admission alone. The film has a simple layout but builds an engrossing layered story as the movie progresses. If there is a small annoyance in Dan Trachtenberg's debut feature it is the climax but again it is related to 'Cloverfield'.
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