Ever since the surprise debut trailer in January, the internet has been buzzing with anticipation for J.J. Abrams’ latest secret project. Produced by Bad Robot and directed by indie sensation Dan Trachtenburg, 10 Cloverfield Lane is the debut feature film from the young director and stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and John Gallager Jr.
When Michelle (played by Winstead) wakes up in a mysterious bunker after a car accident, a strange man named Howard (hauntingly portrayed by Goodman) and fellow survivor Emmet (Gallager Jr.) reveal that the outside world has been struck by a nuclear attack and has left the air toxic. But not is all as it seems. Is Howard really Michelle’s saviour or kidnapper?
With 90% of the films runtime set inside the claustrophobic confines of the fallout bunker, one would think ‘how can fear be achieved’, but Trachtenburg expertly achieved this with ease. Thanks to atmospheric sound design, strategically placed camera shots and Oscar worthy performances from both Goodman and Winstead, the audience is firmly locked in this vacuum with our characters.
Goodman, who plays Howard, is most certainly one of the best character actors alive today and gives one of, if not, his best performance of his career. Howard is a troubled man who has lost so much and Goodman embodies this persona and has us as an audience perplexed as to whether he is a misunderstood generous sole or a creepy psychopath.
Winstead, like Goodman, gives one of her best career portrayals too as strong female lead Michelle who takes a huge spiritual journey throughout the film and has the monumental task of bringing the audience along with her and allowing us to see the story unfold through her eyes. Gallager Jr cannot be forgotten too as what could be conceived as the comic relief character Emmet. As the story progresses is becomes apparent how crucial a piece of the puzzle this young man truly is.
Director Dan Trachtenburg also shows that he has a keen eye for detail. Many visual clues to the backstory of characters and events are carefully scattered throughout with also a few easter egg for fans of the 2008 blood relative Cloverfield. With this picture being his full length debut, it has allowed him to truly craft his own vision without being under the restriction previous work. He has masterfully crafted a world in which danger seems to be around every corner even though you can’t quite put your finger on where it may be coming from.
The sound design is a truly vital companion to making this piece a tension driven classic. Never before has the sound of a heavy duty vault door make the entire auditorium jump in unison. Blended beautifully with a chilling score from Bear McCreary, 10 Cloverfield Lane captivates you in a way that not many thrillers, or even modern horrors, can even dream to achieve.
The ending, to which some have called “tacked-on”, was most certainly unpredictable and in my eyes a really interesting way to attempt to tie everything together. Even though by the end of the film most of my initial questions had been answered, more were created throughout the storyline and were left ambiguous after the credits rolled and that is great. It was the final cherry on the cake that has not only satisfied me but also keeps the community talking about theories for long after the film has been released.
As for links to the previous installment and how it all ties in with what the internet has dubbed the “Clover-verse”, think of the Cloverfield name as a heading for a modern day Twilight Zone. You have to see it to believe it.
With sensational performances, wonderful cinematography, a chilling score and a masterful blend of tension, comedy and horror, 10 Cloverfield Lane is not only one of the best Thrillers of the year, but may be one of the best Thrillers of the decade.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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