Hollywood, if it does two things well, they are definitely suspense and visual effects. When “Cloverfield” was released in 2008, I couldn’t praise it enough. The portrayal of an alien invasion through the lens of an ordinary person’s camera was a fresh perspective on science fiction, as I highlighted in my “Found Footage” article. Eight years later, “Cloverfield” made a return, but as a partial spin-off. Produced by the well-known J.J. Abrams, the film was directed by Dan Trachtenberg, famous for his short film “Portal.” Dan Trachtenberg, who caught J.J. Abrams’ attention with his success in “Portal,” did an excellent job with his first feature film. In recent times, J.J. Abrams continues to stand out as a producer with the films he’s been involved in. What made “10 Cloverfield Lane” enjoyable, however, was that nobody knew the film was being made. Like the characters hiding in the bunker in the film, the film itself remained hidden from view for a long time.
If you recall, in the 2008 “Cloverfield,” New York was attacked by a massive alien. The outcome was unknown, of course. Before the attack, Michelle separates from her boyfriend and hits the road. In her post-breakup daze, she had an accident due to careless driving. When she wakes up, she finds herself in an unknown bunker with two men she has never met before. The owner of the bunker, Howard, doesn’t allow Michelle to leave the shelter because he claims the outside has been invaded and the air is radioactive. However, Michelle doesn’t believe what she’s told. She needs to get out of the bunker somehow, but in order to do so, she first needs to adapt to life in the shelter.
I want to start this paragraph with John Goodman. Goodman proves once again how great an actor he is with his portrayal of Howard. Since about 90% of the film takes place in the shelter, there’s a kind of short passing game in a confined space, so to speak. John Goodman successfully carries the tension in this confined space all on his own. Playing a former military man, John Goodman believes that all the conspiracy theories he’s been thinking about for years regarding an alien invasion have come true. Therefore, he is prepared for everything and is ready to fight anyone who causes trouble. Mary Elizabeth Winstead does an excellent job in the role of Michelle. In fact, they didn’t audition for the film; they wanted to cast Mary Elizabeth Winstead directly in the lead role. John Gallagher Jr. completes the terrific trio with his role as Emmett, delivering a decent performance.
I want to emphasize once again that the film was secretly shot. Director Dan Trachtenberg does a really great job, but – presumably intentionally – he tires the audience with his camera towards the end of the film while trying to increase the dose of action with it. Other than that, the director and his team have done a really successful job. Here, we also need to mention the screenplay team because I was a bit surprised to see Damien Chazelle, the director of “Whiplash,” in the screenplay team. The three screenwriters have created a very successful script. The tension is meticulously woven from the beginning to the end of the story, and it reaches a climax towards the end of the film.
Another noteworthy aspect of the film is this: 90% of the film takes place in a confined space, and after a while, you really start to get bored. Although the tension of the unknown and conspiracy theories keeps the excitement alive, the lack of inner action can lead to yawning at a certain point. As expected, the film moves outside in the final act, and Hollywood does what it does best. The last 10 minutes of the film are a whirlwind of excitement. I can almost hear J.J. Abrams saying, “Let’s keep the entire film at home, and in the last 10 minutes, let’s deliver the visual effects. That should do it.”
In summary, “10 Cloverfield Lane” is a tight but suspenseful action film that continues in the same universe as the original. The performances are excellent, the screenplay is successful, the visual effects are so good that they will make you jump out of your seat, and the art direction in the shelter is equally brilliant. It’s not a perfect film. It’s not a film that can be endlessly praised, but it’s definitely worth watching a successful film.
Cast & Crew
director: Dan Trachtenberg
writers: Damien Chazelle, Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken
starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.
USA | 2016 | 104 MINUTES |