With so much hype and anticipation surrounding the release of J.J. Abrams’ “10 Cloverfield Lane,” I was trying to find a way to describe this sci-fi suspense thriller without spoilers aplenty. But, let’s face it, this isn’t “Star Wars” so I can spoil away. With a feature directorial debut from Dan Trachtenberg and a screenplay from a fairly fresh writing team (Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken, Damien Chazelle), “10 Cloverfield Lane” manages to deliver the same intensity and thrill as the alien take-over from “Independence Day” and the dreadful doom of being abducted (by a human) from the Oscar-nominated “Room,” all in one film. A story that could very well fit into multiple genres, “10 Cloverfield Lane” invokes an array of fearful feelings, from claustrophobia to desolation… and it feels great.
When discussing “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” J.J. Abrams insists that audiences view the film as a separate entity from its predecessors, even though it’s an obvious sequel in the franchise. In 2008, Abrams produced “Cloverfield,” about a group of friends fighting for their lives as New York City is under attack by a monster. Now that “10 Cloverfield Lane” is hitting theaters eight years later, and there are obvious connections between the two monster movies, Abrams has admitted the relation but, just as he did with ‘Star Wars,’ does not call the 2016 release a direct sequel to the 2008 project. With all of that said; “10 Cloverfield Lane” can easily be seen without any previous background.
The incredibly talented Mary Elizabeth Winstead portrays Michelle, a young woman who walks out on her fiancée with no explanation. Fleeing the city, she drives into the countryside. But it isn’t long before a sudden car crash leaves Michelle waking up with an IV in her arm, lying in a cell-like room in the middle of nowhere. After meeting her assumed abductor, Howard (John Goodman), Michelle is given the bad news, which she isn’t sure she believes. The world has come to an end. The air is contaminated and it could be aliens, or it could be North Korea. Howard isn’t quite sure. Turns out, he saved Michelle’s life and brought her to his apocalypse-proof bunker, also occupied by a gregarious small-town guy, Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.).
I will stop the synopsis there in order to leave some room for surprises. But, suffice it to say; Michelle’s world continues to be turned upside down as she discovers one shocking event after another. The audience joins her on the horror ride that her life has become. From the eerie music by Bear McCreary (‘The Walking Dead’), to the sound mixing and effects, every climax to each suspenseful moment thrusts you back in your seat. You will squirm, you will drop your jaw and you might even bite your nails out of sheer apprehension.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead has found herself a role that will put her on the badass map. Playing a true survivalist, she is the perfect problem-solving heroine. No doubt, Winstead has earned her leading-lady stripes. John Goodman certainly has his moments, but John Gallagher, Jr. adds a refreshing touch of comedy with his endearing performance as the goofy sidekick. And although audiences have come to know Goodman in more loveable roles, he shows a different range by portraying one sick individual.
Chances are, if you’ve been counting down to see “10 Cloverfield Lane,” then you want to see monsters and you want to be scared.
I am happy to tell you that you will get what you asked for… and then some.
By Pamela Price
Running Time: 1hr and 45 minutes
Rated PG-13 for thematic material including frightening sequences of threat with some violence, and brief language