24 April 2016

[Review] 10 Cloverfield Lane

Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.
Genre: Horror
Running Time: 106 minutes (1 hour 46 minutes)
Release Dates: 11th March 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane depicts Earth as an apocalyptic wasteland, wiped out by an extra terrestrial race, and sweeping the Earth for traces of survivors. Meanwhile underground, an enigmatic and lonely cynic named Howard (John Goodman) is protecting survivors Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) from the poisonous atmosphere above. But when Michelle and Emmett discover a murdered girl's remains, they begin to suspect that their host isn't who he claims to be, and plan an escape. Espionage, secrecy, and tension ensues as Michelle becomes surrounded by monsters of different kinds, with limited chance of survival.

This movie was relatively low-key in terms of marketing but that was not reflective in its quality. The film had just 3 actors and gave me a lot of Ex Machina nostalgia. If you would like a more horror-focussed version of Ex Machina, this is the movie for you. However, if you're looking to scare yourself and your friends through lots of jump scares and scary happenings, this isn't really the movie for you. I think the genre of this film is more thriller and sci-fi than horror. There's not much action in this film, just a growing unbearably palpable air of tension and espionage, as the two 'victims' form their escape plan under the watchful eye of the very suspicious and overly-protective conspiracist. I however found it highly effective. This film is- as said by producer J.J. Abrams is a 'blood relative' of 2008's Cloverfield. What that means is that this is not a direct sequel, but more like an instalment in a wider 'Cloverfield' anthology. Not quite in the same world but in the same tone.

It wastes no time in jumping into the plot from the opening of the film, and audiences are kept in the dark practically the entire film, synonymous with Michelle and Emmett's situation, which engaged me all the more effectively. However, we are told from Howard's bomb shelter makeshift home that an apocalypse has transpired which to some may seem lazy from the visual effects department, while some may agree that the enigma of the outside world is kept that way through this method. I didn't see much direction in this film though, there was a lot of sitting around playing board games, and the plan was to escape but, what then? The whole journey of the main character seems a little futile, but perhaps that was the point.

The cast was, as I said already, minimal. The cast comprised of Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the bold, intelligent, and traumatised heroine Michelle, John Gallagher Jr. as the humorous, inexperienced, and a little lovesick sidekick Emmett, and John Goodman as the mentally unstable, creepy, overprotective, violent, and mysterious house owner Howard. Goodman performed best by a long way as the antagonist making me feel genuinely fearful for the consequences of the secrecy due to his insanity. However, in terms of credibility as a villain with destructive capability, he was lacking. Elizabeth performed well as her character, and Gallagher Jr. was fairly mediocre but there was only so much he could do in his minor role. No chemistry between Gallagher Jr. and Elizabeth Winstead. None. But the running time was 106 minutes and they become separated (no spoilers) at some point during the film so the romance couldn't bloom and no character development occurred.

Genres included action, drama, horror, mystery, sci-fi, and thriller with some romance and comic relief from Emmett. The setting was fairly cliché, an apocalyptic wasteland and a bomb shelter. Themes comprised of love, revenge, survival, and insanity. The special effects were somewhat lacking, I didn't like the look of the aliens when they were finally shown, and there was no further evidence of it throughout the film. I also didn't like the presence of the aliens in the third act of the film. It was out of place and I felt it didn't need to be focussed on.

In terms of sequels, Producer Abrams has said that it would be good to create more films in the Cloverfield anthology, and potentially connecting them. The ending of this film leaves sequel potential open-ended. The movie maintains a tense, eerie, and edge-of-your-seat ambience up until the credits roll. The soundtrack and sound editing was eerie and conveyed emotions when needed, perfectly suitable to the film's unfolding events.

In Conclusion, I enjoyed this film much more than I thought I would based on marketing. I quite enjoy thriller films and Goodman's portrayal of the antagonist. Overall, with regards to this film's genre, tone, and purpose, there was only a few things wrong with it, and I would say that it's definitely worth a watch.

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