10 Cloverfield Lane: Film Review

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I have been hyped for 10 Cloverfield Lane since its entire existence was announced only in January – which is unheard of these days. The trailer looked great but didn’t tell us much at all, it’s produced by my man J.J. Abrams and there was a somewhat of a connection to 2008’s found footage monster movie Cloverfield, which I loved. The good news is that it is a great movie; bad news is that it is not the film you would expect.

We follow Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who has left her fiance and is driving somewhere when she is involved in a serious car accident. She wakes up in a locked room which is revealed to be inside a doomsday bunker built by survivalist Howard (John Goodman), who predicted something would happen to wipe out mankind. According to him, he saved her life and she cannot leave because the outside air is not breathable due to a chemical attack. At least she has some other company in the form of Emmet (John Gallagher, Jr.) More happens obvs, but I’m trying to be spoiler-free.

This is a tense captivity thriller which shocks and puts you on the edge of your seat often. I literally threw my hands up to my face on a few occasions. Goodman is the scariest and creepiest I have ever seen him and it was wonderfully unexpected. You don’t know what his true motivations are for a long time. The script is smart and clever in that we slowly receive new bits of information about him which makes us question our previous assumptions. This is just a three person show and there is no weakness acting-wise, although Gallagher, Jr.’s part is under written. He brings the levity – it’s much funnier than you would expect – but Winstead carries the film as our protagonist who deftly balances victim and heroine.

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The main issue, besides the fact it is pretty slow in the beginning, is that I was not expecting it to be a captivity thriller for most of the film. I thought the trailer was just a ploy so the main turn of events would not be given away. I thought there would be a massive moment where the Cloverfield connection became clear – but it never does. I don’t want to spoil anything – it does become a different kind of movie about 20 minutes shy of the end – but it never had that pay off. I know it’s not a sequel, but making it seem like it’s in the same universe and/or in the same vein is misleading because no connection was apparent to me at all.

Taken on its own, without knowledge of connections, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a brilliantly intense, captivating and claustrophobic thriller. Yet I spent the entire time waiting for some Cloverfield connection, and I don’t think I’ll be alone in this. I imagine most people are expecting a monster disaster movie and it is not. This left me feeling disappointed, which it should not because it was great! The misleading marketing ruined it for me a bit.

In cinemas Friday 18th March 

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