Oh, it’s John Goodman.
That may sound like a cheap shot at his size, but it’s really not. Yes, he is a large man, a very large man, but that’s an important aspect of his character in this movie. He is overwhelmingly intimidating, and you feel like he could crush both of the people in the bunker on a whim. But we’ll get to that.
If you haven’t seen the movie, quick recommendation: Go see it. I really enjoyed this thriller and would recommend it. That being said, I’ll avoid major plot points until the end of the review, but there will be some SPOILERish stuff ahead, so beware!
10 Cloverfield Lane, a sister film/spiritual successor/possible sequel to 2008’s Cloverfield, is about a woman named Michelle who gets in a car accident and wakes up with a leg injury chained in a room on a mattress. She soon meets her captor, Howard, who claims that there’s been some sort of attack and he found her and brought her to his bunker to protect her.
Michelle is understandably skeptical. Even after meeting Emmett, another resident of the shelter, who actually wants to be there, believing that there has been some sort of attack, she doesn’t trust Howard. She even attempts a daring escape, but sees something that convinces her that something bad actually has happened, and she decides to stay in the shelter.
This is where the movie really kicks off, and it was a hell of a ride. Tense, dramatic, and at moments terrifying, the film nailed its points. John Goodman, especially, delivers a hell of a performance as Howard. You get the sense that something is off about him, that he’s dangerous, but you’re not quite sure if that sense is misguided or not. He acts strangely, has a bit of a temper, but will also give you glimpses into how he became the way he is. And there definitely is something devastating outside, so even if he has outlandish theories, they can’t be that far off from whatever the truth is. Plus, while John Goodman is one scary motherfucker in this film, occasionally the teddy bear he can be is glimpsed, so you’re never quite sure if your instincts are on point with him. As I said before, you don’t know if he’s going to snap and kill both Michelle and Emmett, and it makes his scenes impossible to forget.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead also gives a great performance, giving Michelle a sense of being terrified, but more than capable. Her character is always being proactive in a given situation. From the very beginning Michelle is analyzing her position, digesting new information, and working towards figuring out her problems. It’s fascinating to watch her character evolve and toil against her lot.
Even John Gallagher Jr. gives a fine performance, though his character is secondary to Michelle and Howard. He’s mostly a sounding board for Michelle to interact with as she tries to understand what’s happening and why, but even in that he’s able to carve out a memorable spot in the film.
The film was also expertly shot, especially considering that this is the first feature film by the director, Dan Trachtenberg. He kept the tone uneasy and anxiety-inducing, brought out great performances from the 3 leads, and somehow kept the inside of a bunker extremely interesting for 2 hours. I expect great things from him in the future.
I also loved how this film was completely different from 2008’s Cloverfield. Everything about 10 Cloverfield Lane was unique from Cloverfield, and I thought that was bold and rewarding. It built the already strange brand that is Cloverfield and at the same time gave us something completely new. Other franchises could take a lesson.
Before we move on, once more, I highly recommend this film. I was glued to the screen the entire time.
Now, let’s talk about the ending for a moment.
SPOILERS FOR THE ENDING BELOW!
Personally, I love that sci-fi shit, and as it bore the moniker “Cloverfield,” I was completely expecting something strange to be revealed at the end of the movie. I would have been disappointed if it hadn’t happened! It also certainly surprised me, an alien invasion with strange organic hoverships and butthole bears. I honestly was expecting to see the landscape crawling with Cloverfield monsters in the distance or something, so I was genuinely surprised, which is a plus.
That being said, I’m conflicted about the whole molotov cocktail into the ship and blowing it up sequence. Sure, it was exciting, but I also feel it was kind of unnecessary. Michelle has gone through her ordeal, already overcome her main conflicts, so we could reveal that it was an alien invasion without this superfluous action. Though, at the same time, I didn’t mind it. It was thrilling, gave Michelle and the audience a glimpse of what the aliens were, and gave Michelle direction for her future in this new world. It was a decent end punctuation for the film, even if it was unnecessary.
So, all in all, I highly recommend 10 Cloverfield Lane. It was a great drama/thriller, gave us some fantastic performances, and I loved how it built upon the Cloverfield brand without trying to be the same movie as its predecessor. Check it out!