Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane
Out of the frying pan into the fireThe Geets (greats):
The star-studded trio cast of John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr elevates the suspense and drives the story in a compelling way. Goodman's acting as Howard alone deserves a standing ovation as he is able to frighten the audience with the terrifying paranoia-stricken, and over-protective nature of his character.
In summary, Michelle (involved in a car accident) is taken in by Howard and Emmett, and what begins is a palpable rise in tension and suspense due to the paranoia of what lies outside. However, the terrific acting, dialogue and set of intensity suggest that there is something much horrific inside the house rather than outside, in the now apocalyptic world.
As the audience member I cant help but feel the isolation and confusion that the protagonist feels, as if she is consistently questioning the motives of Howard. This movie depicts over-bearing paranoia as equally monstrous to human nature as are the creatures that lurk in the dark.
As the movie progresses, we see Michelle being manipulated by Howard into a false sense of security, suggesting that the home is safer than outside. However, the flaws and mannerisms of his personality start resurfacing slowly, making both Michelle and Emmett believe that the monster they are frightened of is actually within the confines of this safe house. This movie does an excellent depiction of paranoia, which is not a visible entity, but which is derived through excellent acting on the part of Goodman. He makes you feel as though the traumatic events are all too real, and his compulsive motivation to keep his guests secluded in the house with him elevates his acting to a level only a few can achieve.
I could definitely feel the height of the tension and paranoia in the scene where he realises that his guests are concocting a plan to escape from the house, or from himself. He shows them an acid barrel, and the dialogue that ensues is extremely palpable and felt as a viewer that cant help but applaud the psychological fear that this filmmakers invested on.
Goodman's character, at first, seems reasonable and protective, but these qualities start devolving into the deeper layers of his psyche, one where the paranoia he feels from outside threats has 'caved in' his ability to rationalise effectively, instead finding a false sense of security in social connectivity. You can feel the effects of social isolation on his mental wellbeing, and it is this that drives the complex, calculated and artistically bold mannerisms of this character.
Towards the end, Michelle is able to finally escape her captor and exit into the dangerous outside terrain, where she encounters the monstrous alien threat. As a final act, this may divert viewers from what was excellently developed through the majority of the film, but the 2 anatomically different monsters we encounter are symbolically related in a psychological sense.
This movie poses the question whether humans have an equal tendency to monstrosities evident in the creatures she encounters towards the end. It highlights that, given the fragility of the human mind and its vulnerabilities in a restrictive environment, that the very creatures we keep ourselves safe from can materialise from within. In the end, it is our 'fight' response more than the 'flight' response that ultimately dictates the humanity that still exists within as the paranoid state of protectiveness and guardedness may itself become the 'self-limiting' steps in the hopes for survival.
As such, the lines between Howard and the creature are very much blurred, and they are riddled with overtones of the psychological fear. It may also be implied that Howard is seen a greater threat to humanity than the creatures as it is the loss of the psychological mind rather than the body that depicts the end of humanity. While the creature could be depicted in a lower hierarchical order to us in terms of psychological competence, it justifies its motive to kill as a more instinctual survival mechanism, whereas the drive to imprison his guests is more complicated in Howard's mind. His mind is processing more complex social, emotional and psychological factors adversely which, together, defines him as more terrifying than the monster.
Michelle's fight to escape from Howard is more playing on the psychological preparedness of military training while her more physical encounter with the creature is depicted as the 'war' itself, ultimately implying that what unfolded throughout the majority of the film prepared her to survive out in the dangers of the outside terrain.
The Phads (bads):
This movie operated so masterfully on different niches of psychological fear and paranoia that it makes it hard to obscurely critiqueany of its elements. Perhaps the fact that it will always be associated within the Cloverfield franchise can affect its reception as a stand-out movie as the successors rely more on the physical threat rather than the psychological threat.