10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
12Mar/160

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

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Michelle drives angrily into the night after a fight with her fiancé.  In her anger she gets into an accident, only to awaken in a concrete bunker with two men.  One is hurt, the other says that the Earth is under assault from someone, and the only way to stay safe is to fortify themselves in the bunker.  Dan Trachtenberg direct 10 Cloverfield Lane, from a screenplay written by Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken, and Damien Chazelle, and stars John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher, Jr.

Happy 'family' timeIn my class, we talk about perspective a lot when dealing with storytelling.  Do we as an audience know more than the characters?  Do we know less? Do we know what they know?  What the creators of a film can do with perspective can make or break a film.  One of the best examples of this is Rear Window where the audience is in the dark with Jimmy Stewart and the tension comes from not knowing who the killer is in the complex.  On the other end of the spectrum, the one thing that bothers me with shows like LOST is when the characters know much more than the audience and don’t tell other characters relevant info just because it isn’t time in the story for the audience to have that info yet.

This brings me to the new film 10 Cloverfield Lane and how the moviegoers having a limited knowledge on what is going on strengthens its genre trappings. Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is in an emotional mess in the beginning of the film and is leaving her fiancé/husband for some reason we don’t know and hits the road.  After a short conversation on the phone with her ex, she is in a horrible car accident. She wakes up in a small, undecorated room and is cuffed to the bed.  Needless to say this is not the way you want to wake up but Michelle instantly starts thinking of ways out of her situation instead of crying which is the first of many times that Michelle makes an awesome heroine.  After a few moments, Howard (John Goodman) opens her door to give her food and tell her that A. he saved her life and B. the world has ended and she has to stay in the bunker with him for at least a year or two until the air is breathable again.  The only other person in the bunker with them is Emmett, a neighbor of Howard’s who verifies the end of the world story and seems oddly OK with his present situation.

The viewer knows only what Michelle knows and that leaves us in the dark.  Is what Howard saying true?  Why does Emmett seem fine with all his friends/family being dead and stuck in a bunker with 2 strangers? Should she trust Howard or is he crazy?  How can you know what the air is like?  These are what the first ⅔’s of the movie is all about and it is done wonderfully.Winstead ahoyThe performance from Winstead is of a kickass heroine who thinks everything out and springs into action without waiting for anyone to rescue her.  She balances the line of being an “everygirl” that is relatable to the audience and at the same time being an action start that we all root for. Winstead is the star and she does some great work but Goodman is turning in one of his best performances, and as a HUGE Goodman fan that says a lot.  I know that it is only March and it will never happen but I would love to see Goodman nominated for a supporting actor award at the end of the year.  Goodman takes Walter from someone you don’t trust at all, to a sympathetic man to a crazy guy you are scared of in one scene and does it over and over through the movie.  I could never tell what to think of his character and it is what this movie was going for.  Goodman has a physical presence that is imposing and he uses it in certain moments of the film but then can also be a sweet teddy bear or a lost puppy. It would have been easy to over act this role and turn it into a scenery chewing wreck but he knows when to act at a 1 and when to go to 10.

Most of the film takes place in small space and first-time director Dan Trachtenberg along with his director of photography Jeff Cutter use this to their advantage.  The small confines never get boring but give the movie a suffocating feeling.  They also set up the bunker that you understand easily where everything is in relation to one another so when there are some action beats you can follow the logistics of the scene.  The locked in room also helps create tension because Michelle possibly is locked in it with a crazy brute of a man with no help from the outside world.  The scene that made me the most on edge is when she had to go in the air ducts.  Neither of them men could fit so she was on her own and the chilling last words from Walter of “if you get stuck we can’t help you, don’t get stuck” made my claustrophobia kick in heavily.

I am not going to talk about the 3rd act because I don’t want to spoil the movie but I will say it is both insane and the weakest part of the film.  There is an out of left field swing that could have had more time to breathe and sit with the audience but what the characters do in this does stay true to what happened before.  Getting back to the limited perspective of the world that the movie has makes this both really interesting and frustrating at the same time.  I liked it because there was never a moment in the film where everything grinds to a halt so a character can explain everything. Information is learned organically through conversation and implications. I hated it because I need closure and they don’t answer all questions that were brought up.

For genre film-making, this is the way to go.  It is lean, fast paced and wonderfully acted.  It is the movie that the first Cloverfield should have been.  After watching the first film in this franchise, I didn't need to see anymore. After 10 Cloverfield Lane I am interested in seeing what else this series can spit out.  If each are different than the one before, I can dig the Twilight Zone type vibe of strange things happening each movie.  If you liked the trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane you will like the film because for once, what they sell is what you get

Tail - 10 Cloverfield Lane10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Directed by Dan Trachtenberg.
Screenplay written by Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken, and Damien Chazelle.
Starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher, Jr.

Posted by Andrew

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