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Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane
03.10.2016
8 10

PLOT: Following a violent car accident, a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up in an underground shelter run by a survivalist (John Goodman) who claims they’ve survived an attack that’s left the earth uninhabitable.

REVIEW: 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is the kind of movie you should know as little about as possible before settling-in to watch it. A tight, well-crafted thriller, it works best if you have no idea what tricks the filmmakers have up their sleeves, and in a way it’s a shame that the cat’s been let out of the bag that this is connected to 2008’s monster-movie CLOVERFIELD. While that makes commercial sense, audiences will still walk into this expecting to see something wild. Luckily - the film doesn’t disappoint, although one wonders how much crazier the movie might have come-off had this connection been kept a surprise. Marking the directorial debut of Dan Trachtenberg, this is an economical thriller done right. Shot in close quarters with only three actors in the cast (save for some bit players), it nevertheless manages to build a sense of anticipation and dread that’s should lead to killer word-of-mouth and big box-office from genre fans.

10 cloverfield lane Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Unlike the original CLOVERFIELD, which embraced the then-trendy found-footage genre, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is deliberately old-fashioned. The wordless prologue, featuring Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s heroine trying to extricate herself from her seemingly comfortable existence, is intriguing in how much information they’re able to convey only through Winstead’s physical acting and the unnerving, Bernard Herrmann-style score by Bear McCreary (a real A-level effort from the prolific composer). Once Winstead wakes up in Goodman’s shelter, the movie becomes an intriguing battle for dominance between Winstead’s ingenious heroine and John Goodman's unsettling Howard, who’s clearly hiding something and is never quite acceptable either to the characters or the audience as the savior he claims to be. John Gallagher, Jr.’s Emmet, another young person seemingly rescued by Howard, makes for an interesting third party, with his loyalties zig-zagging between Goodman and Winstead throughout.

John Gallagher Jr. John Goodman Mary Elizabeth Winstead 10 cloverfield lane

Winstead, who’s always been one of Hollywood’s great, under-appreciated leading ladies, gives a full-on movie-star performance as the incredibly personable Michelle. While we know very little about her at first, we’re immediately on her side and she makes for a very compelling lead, especially as the tension is ratcheted up to breathtaking levels. John Goodman makes for a really interesting choice to play Howard, as he’s someone an audience can’t help but sympathize with to a degree, thanks to his own iconic status, with him having played so many lovable characters in the past. This is a true case of casting-against-type and it works to the film’s advantage in a huge way. Of the three, Gallagher is the least prominent, but he makes a big impression nonetheless. 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is nothing if not impeccably cast.

Which brings us to the denouement, which will likely divide audiences - although the packed-house I saw this with cheered throughout. If the stories about this being turned into a CLOVERFIELD sequel late-in-production are true, then everyone involved has done a pretty seamless job making it work as a true successor (if maybe not quite a sequel) to the original. There are some ingenious bits towards the end, with a climax that suggests there’s a whole mythology to this universe that can be explored in other installments, making the CLOVERFIELD franchise work as a kind of big-screen anthology series. Whether this pans out or not, the final act is undeniably thrilling, and Trachtenberg will without-a-doubt become much in-demand in that he proves himself both capable of character drama and some real spectacle.

Certainly, Paramount and Bad Robot have done an admirable job keeping 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE under-wraps, and this is absolutely a must-see opening weekend as the ending will no doubt be much-debated and commented-on in the Twitter-verse (it’s already happening). Go in as fresh as you can, but even robbed of some of its surprises this is a terrific thriller with great acting, good writing (including contributions by WHIPLASH’s Damien Chazelle) and solid craftsmanship all-around. It’s the ideal winter-sleeper, and a guaranteed good time at the movies.

Extra Tidbit: If you want to see another great Mary Elizabeth Winstead performance, check out the film FAULTS.
Source: JoBlo.com

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