’10 Cloverfield Lane’ Off to a Good Start

By Allison McCausland
Staff Writer

This article can also be viewed in Issue 11, Fiftieth Year of The Minstrel (March 24, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue.

After years of the usual horror/thriller formula, Hollywood has produced an excitingly fresh story that revitalizes the genre with its psychologically based techniques.

Photo courtesy of imdb.com.
Photo courtesy of imdb.com.

Taking place in present-day America, 10 Cloverfield Lane revolves around the plight of a woman named Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) on the run for her life. While on the run, Michelle gets in a car accident and wakes up to find herself “saved” by conspiracy theorist Howard (John Goodman). Convinced that extraterrestrials have invaded and contaminated the air, Howard takes in Michelle and a town local, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), in order to survive the fallout.

Initially skeptical of Howard’s theory, Michelle gradually begins to accept the reality of the outside world’s condition and focuses on survival. However, the longer she stays in the bunker, Michelle realizes things are not always what they seem, and Howard may not be telling the whole truth. Is there really a fallout? And how long can the trio last in the bunker before tensions rise and the outside world seeps below the terrain?

Shot and edited virtually under wraps, and only marketed for two months before its release, director Dan Trachtenberg’s debut immediately drummed up audience expectations for an exhilarating movie-going experience. Instead of overdoing it with special effects and genre clichés, Trachtenberg focuses on tapping into the psyche of both the characters and the viewer to achieve the edge-of-your-seat feeling films have lost in recent years. The constant “what is the truth versus what is a lie” that Michelle and Emmett ask themselves as they spend more time with Howard in their enclosed surrounding drives the plot and leaves audiences guessing until the very end.

Winstead successfully relates to the viewers with her skepticism, and defies the victim stereotype by actually making and following through with how to survive as well as possibly escaping the bunker. Goodman also shines as he steps out of his acting comfort zone a bit by scaring and educating the characters with the reality that lurks outside the steel doors of his farm. Being as small as it is, the cast manages to work well equally as adversaries and allies.

Nevertheless, the stimulating story hits a wall at the end of the film that just doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the film’s tone. The chosen ending feels more like the studio’s way of leaving the movie open-ended for a sequel or possibly a franchise to be built off the success of this one. This leaves an unsatisfying feeling that audiences may have to wait a year or two for a sequel to fix. All in all, despite the uncharacteristic ending, 10 Cloverfield Lane is definitely worth the ride.

The film is rated PG-13 for thematic material including frightening sequences of threat with some violence and brief language.

Overall Rating: 7/10

S.H.A.R.K. Grade
(Rates on a scale of 1-5, how much Suspense, Humor, Action, Romance, and Kid-friendly material is in the movie)
1- None to Very Little, 2- Little, 3- Average, 4- Much, 5- Very much

S 4     H 1    A 4     R 1    K 1

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