I was not a big fan of Cloverfield (2008) when I first saw it (and I’ve never seen it since, so I don’t know if I’d like it now..), so when I heard about this movie, I was not very hyped. But I soon realized that this movie had almost nothing to do with Cloverfield. If you’re thinking you’ll be seeing a sequel or prequel or anything like that, you might be disappointed. First of, the styles are very different; for example, this one is not filmed with a hand-held camera, which already brings a very different vibe to the film. Plus, the story itself is nothing like the first movie. Besides sharing a same Universe, a same world, these two movies don’t have a lot in common. 10 Cloverfield Lane is not a monster movie, nor a horror movie, but a really convincing thriller. I was on the edge of my seat most of the movie.
John Goodman gives an amazing performance as Howard, a survivalist man who may or may not be right about what’s going on outside the bunker. Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Michelle, a young woman who, after a car accident, wakes up in said bunker. Howard keeps her captive, saying that what’s going on outside is too dangerous, even deadly. The relationship between these two characters was one of the bests I’ve seen in a movie this year. I think the actors portrayed with brilliance a complicated relationship that could have seemed fake performed by others. There is also a third character, Emmett, played by John Gallagher Jr. I liked his performance better than in Hush (2016) (“Hush” review), but he was still the least convincing character, according to me.
The atmosphere of the movie is amazing. Just like Michelle, you are uncertain at times whether you should believe Howard or not. We are scared of him, but at the same time, he seems “nice” enough for us to trust him. I know it barely makes sense, but if you saw the movie, you might understand my point. You really wish Michelle could get out of there, but would it truly be safer? You can feel the tension that is going on between her and Howard through the whole movie, and it just sets a greatly uncomfortable vibe.
I also loved that Michelle was not portrayed as a dumb horror/thriller movie cliché character. Unlike other suspenseful movies, I was actually rooting for her the whole time. Never did I think “she shouldn’t have done that, that was really stupid”. I think she reacted the way most of us would in a similar situation.
This movie is a lot about the characters; we learn a lot about them in different ways, sometimes very subtly. Michelle and Howard’s character arcs were pretty interesting and well-written, but Emmett’s seemed kind of forced. It feels as if they did not know what they wanted him to be like, so his backstory was rushed. At one point in the movie, it becomes clear that Emmett’s character was written purely to give us another example or Howard’s character. Yes, it is an important element of the story, but it would have had even more of an impact if we actually knew Emmett like the others.
All in all, don’t expect this movie to be anything like Cloverfield, otherwise you might not enjoy it as much. I think it is definitely worth a watch; it is a very interesting and entertaining movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
10 Cloverfield Lane: A-