Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane

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Distributor: Bad Robot Production
Director: Dan Tractenberg
Writer: John Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, Damien Chazelle
Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Drama
Rating: PG-13
To be honest, I was greatly surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie. I walked in with some concerns regarding how this relates to the original Cloverfield. While this film is not at all a sequel, it certainly engages in elements the original did not, making 10 Cloverfield Lane all the more engaging as a whole.

Storyline

A branch off of J.J. Abrams Cloverfield in 2008, 10 Cloverfield Lane is neither a sequel nor a prequel but rather a different story taking place at a different location in the same time period. After enduring a dramatic car crash that left her unconscious, Michelle wakes up in a cell bunker with a doomsday prepper by the name of Howard and a survivor named Emmett, who constantly insists that Howard saved her life right before an alien invasion above ground. Unsure of what to believe about the outside world, Michelle stops at nothing to find a way out and reveal the truth.

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Content Guide

Violent Content: A scene of a dramatic car crash, a few minor fight scenes, and an overall struggle for survival.
Language/Crude Humor: A few S-words and one F-word toward the end of the film.
Sexual Content: One small reference to perverseness, but nothing beyond that.
Drug/Alcohol Content: None.
Spiritual Content: None.
Negative Content: Manipulation, verbal abuse, and a daring escape from an underground bunker.
Positive Content: Despite all odds, Michelle struggles to find truth as she holds onto hope that there is life outside the bunker.

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Whoever was head over the marketing of this film, I give my props and applause to them for keeping the suspense in the trailers without giving any additional information away. Most trailers that are this suspenseful and that are sequels or branch-offs of former films tend to market months in advance of the premier showing.
The trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane not only came out just over a month ago, but was also released online without warning or without any word or confirmation from producer J.J. Abrams. The first original trailer caught everyone off guard and hooked everyone’s attention to see what this movie was all about. The suspense of the trailer was just the introduction to what was revealed and executed in the film itself.
Throughout, the plot keeps audiences on the edge of their seats and wondering what is to come next and what is to become of Michelle and Emmett. 10 Cloverfield Lane’s soundtrack greatly adds on to the suspense. You cringe and hold tightly onto your popcorn bucket as you lean toward the screen, waiting for something to happen or jump out. What adds on more to the tension are the characters themselves, and by characters, I mean all three.
When it comes to a film with such a small cast let alone a confined location, this can either be a hit or miss. Audiences may hate a specific character, or all the characters will be uninteresting. This, however, is not the case. Each cast member contributes greatly to the story, thereby drawing in the audience to engage and question what was to come next.
While each cast member certainly stood out in their own way, John Goodman stole the show with his menacing, strict, controlling, unpredictable personality. He is a very cautious man who refuses to take any risks to reach the outside world, and if things do not go his way, his unpredictability begins. Because of his rage, you really begin to feel an attachment to Michelle and Emmett as they try to survive and adapt with Howard. You soon begin to imagine what you would have done in their situation, being in a bunker with a man who is difficult and even abusive but also saved your life.
If there is any difficult in adjusting to in this movie, it is what the film circled around in the first place. Because you get really caught up in the characters and the bunker, you eventually forget the overall events taking place above ground and what the whole point of Cloverfield was all about. Again, this is not a major difficulty of the film, however, when it eventually brings you back to meaning behind the bunker, you have to redirect your mindset past everything that took place beforehand.

Conclusion

10 Cloverfield Lane was a film that was completely under the radar during the production period and greatly paid off among audiences and critics alike. While this is more of a suspense drama and not horror based, it gives off a suspense/horror vibe during certain scenes. It certainly keeps you engaged as you constantly question what is to come next while you are wound tight in your seat to the hair-raising soundtrack.
While this film is in the same timeline as Cloverfield itself, 10 Cloverfield Lane has what Cloverfield lacked: interesting characters and a compelling story throughout. If you honestly enjoyed the first installment, do not expect anything similar of this one. I strongly suggest walking into 10 Cloverfield Lane with a fresh perspective and an open mind. If you do, you surely will not be disappointed.

Positives

+ Interesting characters + Engaging plot + Edge of your seat suspenseful

Negatives

- Loses focus of Cloverfield meaning to an extent

The Bottom Line

While this film is in the same timeline as Cloverfield itself, 10 Cloverfield Lane has what Cloverfield lacked: interesting characters and a compelling story throughout. If you honestly enjoyed the first installment, do not expect anything similar of this one. I strongly suggest walking into 10 Cloverfield Lane with a fresh perspective and an open mind. If you do, you surely will not be disappointed.

 

8.5

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Trey Soto

Trey Soto holds a B.A. in Communication Studies from Biola University, emphasis in Interpersonal/Rhetorical Theory. He has been a Film Critic/Analysis for over a year at Geeks Under Grace and other websites such as Temple of Geek. In his spare time, he enjoys comic book literature, screenwriting, production assistant freelancing, photography, cosplay, and hosting his own film podcast T.V. Trey on Podbean and iTunes.

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