Saturday, 19 March 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) - Horror Film Review

As soon as I first saw the trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane I was intrigued, this is due to the trailer breaking the current vogue of revealing every single plot point and instead focusing on getting you interested in seeing the film (the UK trailer at least, the one on IMDB is less well crafted), I wish more trailers would do that. Many people retroactively hate Cloverfield, personally I loved it and so that was another bow in this movies cap for me.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead stars as Michelle who after getting in a tremendous car crash on a lonely road wakes up to find herself locked inside an underground bunker. Her captor soon reveals himself to be Howard (John Goodman) and he tells the girl that he rescued her from her wreck, he also informs her that a cataclysmic event has occurred that has rendered the outside world inhospitable and that her, himself, and local man Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) may well be the only survivors left alive. Is Howard being truthful though, or has Michelle gotten herself captured by a dangerous madman?

For those going into this expecting a direct sequel to Cloverfield you may well be disappointed, aside from a few incidental details this has nothing to do with that film. There are no scenes of a giant monster rampaging through a city, and thankfully no found footage style shaky cam, instead this is more of a thriller. If something terrible on the surface truly has happened or not becomes incidental to the plight of Michelle as regardless Howard is certainly an unbalanced individual. Goodman is stellar as this character, he comes across as menacing and the frequent slips of his gruff but polite facade are so well done. There was a danger of him being an over the top caricature but his character is subtly handled, the very small location adding threat to this bear of a man. Cloverfield was about a huge monster dominating a city, 10 Cloverfield Lane is that on a microscopic scale, as the tag line reads 'monsters come in many forms'.

With at least 80% of the movie taking place in the small bunker some solid acting from all three of the main cast was needed, Goodman of course is nothing short of grand and thankfully the other two are nearly as good. I admit I have a soft spot for Winstead who just seems to look better and better with age but regardless of her attractiveness she plays the role of confused Michelle well. Gallagher Jr, is also surprisingly decent as the accidental third wheel, his character used almost as a cypher for Howard (having known him pre bunker time), but his character is injected with some solid back story that fleshes him out far more than a similar character in a lesser film would have. It is kudos to the writers that all three are given a past rather than the Cube style of characters who seem to only have existed in the here and now.

As a thriller this works but I wasn't so keen on the films idea of a jump scare, usually jump scares involve things leaping out suddenly, here it is sound that is used. I don't know if it was the cinema I was in but each of the times I leapt out my seat was not due to what I was seeing but more to do with the sudden arrival of an abnormally loud sound. The crash sequence at the films start for instance came out of nowhere and was gut churningly loud (have to add the silent intro credits spliced throughout this loud crash sequence was an inspired decision). Moments of sudden loud noise occur a few times during the run time and each time were effective but also did make my ears ache slightly. I can't really go into the plot for fear of spoilers but the pacing is spot on, there was no real down time with something always happening, whether it be the trio's awkward conversations, or one of the many plans Michelle comes up with to find out the truth there is always a hook keeping you as the viewer engaged. It all wraps up well enough but for me the finale did not match the quality of the rest,

Overall the slow reveal and sudden moments of horror backed up by a great performance by Goodman make 10 Cloverfield Lane a film that feels different to the rest of the pack, maybe not the sequel people were expecting but as a stand alone thriller it holds up.


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