“10 Cloverfield Lane,” released on Mar. 11, is the first film by director Dan Trachtenberg, and was produced by JJ Abrams. It stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), John Goodman (yo u know who he is), and John Gallagher Jr. (known primarily for stage acting) as our only characters.
Taking place almost entirely underground in a fallout shelter, “10 Cloverfield Lane” is an incredibly cramped and uncomfortable film, but it was definitely the intent of the director and cinematographer to get those feelings across.
Almost anything I can say about the film would be spoilers, as everything that happens is pretty much essential to the plot, which is a good thing.
Instead of a summary, I’ll just sing praises. The film is very well put together. Every scene matters, and almost every element introduced is connected in some way that makes them more important down the line.
John Goodman gives an excellent, if not a little over the top, performance as a creepy and demanding conspiracy theorist, Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives one of the most realistic performances of a woman in her position that I’ve probably ever seen in a film, and John Gallagher Jr. plays a loveable guy who acts as support for Winstead and as comic relief in this very serious and very tense film.
Running at an hour and 45 minutes, and only about 15 of those minutes being spent above ground, the cast and crew have little space to work with to present a compelling story. They absolutely succeeded. I was wrapped up in nearly every moment and was waiting to see what would happen next.
From start to finish (and the opening scene before the title card is one of the most intense scenes in the film) I was captivated. The only time the film might lose some audience members is in the last ten minutes. Again, no spoilers, but the end is the only connection to the first “Cloverfield” that the movie has.
“10 Cloverfield Lane” is not a sequel nor is it a prequel. If anything, it runs parallel to the first film but in an entirely different part of the country. Narratively, visually, and thematically, the movies share very little in common. Don’t go in expecting to see another “Cloverfield,” because that’s not what it is. Treat those two extra words like they mean something, because they do.
I thoroughly enjoyed “10 Cloverfield Lane” and now would really like to see another film from the “Cloverfield” universe because of it. It might be too creepy and unsettling for some viewers, and the ending might ruin it for a few as well, but for this reviewer.