There’s a good movie in there somewhere.
10 Cloverfield Lane stars Mary Elisabeth Winstead and John Goodman who are trapped in a bunker because John Goodman’s character Howard believes there was an attack and that the air is not breathable. What this movie delivers is a solid claustrophobic thriller that is overshadowed by the cheap marketing ploy that is the name “Cloverfield.” Now the original Cloverfield came out in 2008. I remember watching it with my dad with all the mystery that surrounded it and what the monster was going to be and I loved it. 10 Cloverfield Lane has literally nothing to do with the original Cloverfield. If you expect some kind of tie in you will be vastly disappointed.
There’s a lot of good things in this movie. It’s directed and shot really well, the sound design is very good and actually adds an important element to the film, and the performances are great. John Goodman plays a mentally disturbed doomsday prepper to frightening effect. A very similar character to Annie Wilkes in Misery, except way more unpredictable. Mary Elisabeth Winstead is also very good as a vulnerable yet competent protagonist, who makes a lot of smart decisions, but still remains just as confused as the audience is throughout the whole film. There are a lot of twists and turns here, though the more you think about them the less they seem to make sense.
The worst thing this movie did was choose the wrong name for it. This film’s script was originally just called, “The Cellar” with no connection to Cloverfield at all, but someone along the way thought, “How can we make more money?” Their answer was to take a popular movie made eight years ago, give this movie a similar title, and then act like they didn’t solely do it to try and piggyback off the success of this other film. Anthology series my ass. You don’t take a movie that fans have wanted a sequel to for years, and then shovel this shit at them. You can even tell that the ending was tacked on and wasn’t a part of the original script. For most of the film I didn’t care about the characters and what was happening inside, because I was way more interested in what could possibly be outside. Once you do find out what is going on it’s very underwhelming.
If this was kept as an indie film like it started out as, I think I would have liked it a lot more. The marketing and “anthology” idea just leave a sour taste in my mouth and created expectations for this film that it couldn’t possibly live up to. If somehow you can warp your mind into not thinking about the “Cloverfield” in the title, you’ll like it a lot more.
I’ll sum it up by telling you what I told my friend when it ended, “It was sort of good, but I hated it.”
Overall Score: 2.5/5
I think the best twist in the whole movie was the car accident aspect. It was well written, interesting, and left you guessing. The one where Michelle is about to escape but there is a woman outside who looks diseased, while being a really good scene in itself, felt entirely too coincidental. That woman happens to show up at exactly the same time Michelle is trying to escape, and no one else in the entire film ever tries to bang on the door or get in besides that one instance. That singular moment keeps Michelle inside for the next hour of the movie. I also felt that the whole kidnapping thing with Brittany was a little too forced and unbelievable. We already had the notion that Howard was unstable and sort of crazy, so I didn’t think it was necessary to add that twist to drive the film towards its conclusion. It just didn’t feel as organic as the rest of the things that happened in the bunker.
Emmett’s character, while being likable, felt very one note. He just seems to act the same no matter what is happening. That’s why when he got shot in the face I didn’t really feel bad, it was more expected because he was being an idiot. You’re gonna tell a crazy person with a gun and a tub of acid that you were planning on killing him? What? Just tell him you were making a hazmat suit. He might not kill you then. If they were so afraid of Howard, why not just kill him or knock him out when he’s watching TV or something? Their plan seemed kind of unnecessarily risky. This is another reason why I feel the whole Brittany kidnapping plot wasn’t necessarily the way to go with the story.
Now lets talk about the ending. Aliens. It’s just some generic aliens. If you saw the original Cloverfield, I think you’d be right to assume that there is actually something out there or you’re going to be pissed off. So there’s not really a surprise factor that there are actually aliens outside. It feels a little uninspired. It could have literally been anything, but instead we just get some slug aliens, that are defeated with fire. If they wanted to appease fans, they should’ve had some kind of giant monster or at least something slightly more interesting. But at the end of the day, it’s just a really long Twilight Zone episode that tried to ride the success of a movie that came out a while ago. The marketing is misleading no matter what JJ Abrams or anyone else told people on the internet. I doubt the average moviegoer is going to be scouring the internet reading words like “anthology” and “blood relative” and think, “this won’t have anything to do with that giant monster movie.”
I’d say on principle don’t see it, but as a film on its own merits it’s quite alright.