10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
Running Time: 105 mins.
Premise: After getting in a car crash, a woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up in an underground shelter. Her captor/savior (John Goodman) claims that the outside world is affected by a widespread chemical attack. Is he right? Can he be trusted? And, just what the heck is going on outside?
Behind-the-Scenes: The original script for this film was called The Cellar. Whiplash writer-director Damien Chazelle was brought on to do some rewrites and, at the behest of producer J.J. Abrams, bring the story into a larger "Clover-verse." Chazelle was going to direct but dropped out to do Whiplash, so Dan Trachtenberg came in, and is making his feature directorial debut. Billed as sort of a "spiritual sequel" to 2008's Cloverfield, but you don't need to have seen that film to enjoy this one.
The Good: This is an intense, claustrophobic, Hitchcockian thriller with a few tricks up its sleeve that you might suspect, but still won't see fully coming. It does an expert job of tightening the screws, ratcheting up the tension, and keeping the audience on its toes. The small cast - there are really only three characters - are all wonderful. Winstead is in top form as a super resourceful action heroine, commanding the screen with ease and easily getting the viewer on her side. John Gallagher, Jr. (Short Term 12, The Newsroom) provides nicely modulated supporting work. But, man - I tell you. John Goodman is a national treasure. What an amazing actor. We're never really sure what his character's motivations are or how he'll react, and most of the suspense comes from trying to figure him out. He can be scary, friendly, funny or disturbing, and sometimes all four at the same time. Excellent production design too, and some clever use of old pop songs.
The Bad: 10 Cloverfield Lane flirts with greatness, but doesn't quite achieve it. The story is so contained, which works to its advantage up until the end. I wanted the movie to break out the mystery box sooner and play around in it some more. Some people may have issues with certain third act developments. That being said, fans of Cloverfield will flip for what happens and it's probably why they're watching in the first place.
Should You See It?: Yes. This is a cool movie. Don't read any more reviews. Don't watch the trailers. Just go to the theater.
Star Rating: **** out of 5 stars.
Better Than: Cloverfield, Buried, Monsters
Worse Than: Super 8, Misery
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