When the surprise trailer for Cloverfield popped up in front of Transformers in the summer of 2007, audiences were immediately intrigued by this exciting new monster movie from Lost show runner, J.J. Abrams. Abrams surrounded this new movie an aura of mystery that is rarely seen in the social media era of film. Many audience members feel the need to know everything about a movie before it is ever released, and Abrams reminded them that the unknown can often be more thrilling. With talks of a sequel being discussed occasionally since the original was released in early 2008, Abrams and director, Dan Trachtenberg, surprised all of us with a trailer for the sequel, 10 Cloverfield Lane, just a few, short months ago.
While Cloverfield was received with mixed reviews upon its release, with many people disliking its shaky-cam style and seemingly amateur acting, 10 Cloverfield Lane, has been met with universal praise. While this is set in the same universe as the original, it would be difficult to call it a sequel. The film does have some connections, but if it were not for the title, audiences would have little clue that the films are related. Filmgoers should not expect an action-packed, monster movie or any of the shaky-cam that was met with mixed results.
Instead, 10 Cloverfield Lane is driven by outstanding character acting and a thrilling sense of mystery use to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays a young woman who wakes up in a strange bunker after a car accident knocked her unconscious. She quickly realizes it was John Goodman’s character, Howard, who has brought her here. Howard insists that she stay in the bunker, with it being unsafe to be outdoors after some sort of “attack” has crippled the outside world. While she initially distrusts Howard, a few startling events make her believe this man may be telling the truth.
Winstead continues her string of strong performances with a great turn in a leading role; however, it is Goodman’s terrifying presence that carries the film through its finale. Goodman plays Howard as a man who believes he is doing the right thing, and both Winstead and John Gallagher Jr’s, character, Emmett, owe him for allowing them to survive in his bunker. It becomes clear very early that he could come unhinged at any moment, and it is truly terrifying that we do not know what this man is capable of. Winstead plays off Goodman’s character throughout the film, and her performance is carried by the fear in her facial expressions more than her dialogue. All of this pales in comparison to the potential threat outside the bunker, which remains mysterious for the majority of the film.
Many will be disappointed that the film ends with more questions than answers, but this lends itself to what makes this film so unique. While the treat outside looms over the film, this real story takes place between the characters inside the bunker. Fans should expect a quick-moving thriller than is pushed forward by its outstanding action. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a movie that needs to be seen, but it may be best viewed in a dark living room once it arrives on home video.