I never got to see the first Cloverfield film in the Cloverfield franchise, but I’m not a big fan of “found footage” types of film; they give me motion sickness. That said I was excited to see the sequel, 10 Cloverfield Lane, which J.J. Abrams is quoted as saying is a spiritual successor. Did the second film live up to the hype? Find out after the jump.
10 Cloverfield Lane is first and foremost a psychological thriller that is directed by Dan Trachtenberg (his directorial debut) and produced by J.J. Abrams and Lindsey Weber. It stars John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. The film was originally titled The Cellar, but when you see 10 Cloverfield Lane you’ll understand why it was chosen as the sequel to Cloverfield.
The film begins with a Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) packing her bags after a fight with the never seen fiancé. We watch as she drives to her destination by going via back roads and rural countryside, but we’re not exactly sure where she’s going or why she’s so pissed with her fiancé. On her radio the news is reporting major cities experiencing blackouts. While listening to her fiancé pleading on her cell phone for her to come home, Michelle is rammed from behind and goes off the road.
Michelle awakes from the accident to find herself chained to a wall. She has an IV in her arm, so you get the idea that whoever is holding her in that basement has some medical knowledge. Her jeans, shirt, purse and phone are too far for her to reach. Finally, she meets her captor, Howard. In a monotone voice, Howard explains that she was in a car accident and that he brought her to his bunker to save her. He is adamant that it’s not safe in the outside world, before leaving and locking the door to her cell. Later, he allows her to leave the cell, but he watches her every move.
John Goodman plays his Howard as a man with mysterious motives. His insisting that Russia or China has bombed our country and, that his bunker is the only safe place from the fallout is nothing more than a ploy to keep Michelle grateful and docile. There is another survivor who shares this well-stocked bunker, but Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) is just as afraid of angering Howard as Michelle is. Was there an attack? Emmett says there was, but from whom?
The bunker is suffocating even though it’s large enough for three people to live in a façade of normalcy. There’s a kitchen, a jukebox that plays all the cool songs from my era and, there are board games and puzzles to take Michelle’s mind off the fact that she’s stuck in a bunker with two strangers.
I grew up during the Cold War. Everyone was building underground bunkers just in case Russia dropped lots of bombs on our country. I wonder how many bunkers still exist. I’m guessing that they’ll come in handy for the zombie apocalypse.
In early grade school, we would have mandatory drills in case there was a nuclear attack. The good Nuns had the children hide under their desks… hilarious. We didn’t have a bunker, but my father made sure that our basement was apocalypse ready… he was a survivor of the first depression.
Is this a science fiction film or a psychological film? I’ll keep from giving out spoilers and just say that it wasn’t Russia or China attacking us. I will say that sometimes the scariest of monsters are the ones in human form. I really enjoyed John Goodman’s portrayal of Howard. He is one of the reasons I recommending that you see this film.
Howard is scarier than what’s going on outside the bunker. He is a psychopathic abuser who tries to control his two guests with outbursts of anger, threats and childish manipulation and, Michelle and Emmett were not the first guests inside that bunker. His lack of concern for the people outside the bunker is the telltale sign of an empty soul. Howard is scary, but Michelle is not the victim he expected.
There’s been a lot of backlash because of what happens with Michelle at the end of the film, but I think it was the perfect ending for Michelle because she refuses to take on the role of victim. Kudos to both Dan Trachtenberg and J.J. Abrams for thinking outside the box and making a movie that made me scream out loud.