Films

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) Film Review

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I’d seen TV advertisements for this movie before attending the screening and to me at least, it looked like a cross between ‘The Divide’ and the alien thriller ‘Cloverfield’. Perhaps a lot of you, like me, assumed this film was either a sequel or spinoff of the 2008 title. It is and it isn’t. To sum it up in a sentence, it’s Cloverfield but set in the middle of nowhere with a new cast. (Everyone from Cloverfield appears to be MIA so of course they had to change things up.)

My initial thoughts are that it was better than I had anticipated. From the trailers I wasn’t sure what to expect so I’m glad it turned out to be a positive experience. I did enjoy Cloverfield but I had my reservations over whether or not a continuation of the series would improve or damage my opinion. As it turns out, it was presented rather well and I didn’t leave the theatre disappointed.

(Just as a heads up to those who may have not seen Cloverfield, I wouldn’t deem it a requirement to have watched it before seeing this. There is no direct correlation between the two films.)

Moving onto the plot. As you might have guessed, yes, this film does have some relevance to Cloverfield. If the title hasn’t already given it away then chances are the various references scattered throughout the movie will probably have that honour instead.

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10 Cloverfield Lane opens with Michelle, (played by the talented Mary Elizabeth Winstead who some of you may recognise from her role as Bruce Willis’ daughter in the Die Hard series), the audio is overlaid with a music track as we watch her vigorously packing before making a phone call. As it would happen, a fight took place between her and a boyfriend some time before and she decides to leave him. Skipping ahead a little, she is driving down a country road late at night when her partner calls, he asks her to come back and not to run away before she abruptly ends the call. Suddenly, something hits her car and she crashes violently before things go dark.

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She wakes up in what appears to be a basement room, handcuffed to a pipe. Harold, (played by the usually lovable John Goodman), unlocks the door and enters to present Michelle with some food. From here, we are introduced to the third shelter dweller Emmett, (played by John Gallagher Jr.). They live a somewhat peaceful life in the disaster bunker that Harold has built for himself beneath his farmhouse. This peace is short­lived, obviously, as John Goodman is anything but a good man. All is not what it seems within the bunker and what lies beyond the air­tight entrance is anybody’s guess.

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For a little bit more clarification of how this film differs to Cloverfield, in the movie, John Goodman’s character ‘Harold’ describes the phases of invasion. The Cloverfield movie is essentially phase 1, it documents the events of an assault on a major population hub, a city. 10 Cloverfield Lane is what Goodman refers to as phase 2, ground sweeps in rural areas to reduce the population further. This title is less about ‘clover’ with emphasis on the ‘field’ as the underground complex is located beneath a farm.

John Goodman as Howard, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle, and John Gallagher Jr. as Emmett in 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE, by Paramount Pictures

John Goodman as Howard, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle, and John Gallagher Jr. as Emmett in 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE, by Paramount Pictures.

The majority of the action and intrigue takes place in the bunker itself. This may seem dull and uneventful in writing, but on the big screen the tension and suspense will have you at the edge of your seat. Just as you’ll be thinking that something is about to happen, nothing will come of it. Then, suddenly, your heart is racing and you don’t want to blink in case you miss something as events begin to unfold.

I liked Cloverfield. I liked this film. They aren’t that similar but each have their own appeal. For those who have seen Cloverfield, I should mention that the personal camcorder angle that was used in that film is abandoned in 10 Cloverfield Lane. We are treated to the full experience as opposed to the camera point of view aspect used previously. Objectively, it wouldn’t have made much sense. The approach they took was the right one in my mind. Not much can be said for the camerawork in Cloverfield as its purpose was to give an ‘in the thick of it’ perspective. In 10 Cloverfield Lane the camerawork isn’t anything special either, but the on screen performances were all well received and the visuals weren’t unappealing.

The only thing I disliked was Michelle’s resourcefulness. That might sound silly but it did leave me in awe at times. Michelle may be a quick thinker, she is fighting for her life for a large portion of the film, but she is on a McGuyver level of creativity at some points. In fact, she puts Richard Dean Anderson to shame.

With how things ended I think a sequel may be in the works. If not, I’d be surprised that they set up such a badass character only to leave her hanging. I would most definitely recommend this movie but I would advise, the bulk of this film isn’t going to wow you. Take it all in and I think you might, like me, enjoy it too.

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