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10 Cloverfield Lane: A Nail-Biting Thriller

A fast-paced tale of nail-biting suspense, hectic surprises and gripping tension best describes Dan Trachtenberg’s mystery thriller ‘10 Cloverfield Lane’.

Somewhat linking to the 2008 release of ‘Cloverfield’ through the mastermind Producer J.J Abrams, ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ follows a different path to its predecessor with a smaller scaled production, yet leaving a greater mark on the audience. The revelation of this film leading up to its release has been quite undisclosed, uncovering little about story in its trailers. Gladly, this approach does not spoil any scenes or take away any twists to the movie, which is so often done nowadays; I find it hard to watch a new trailer without them spoiling the plot twists or giving away the best punch lines.

Without telling you too much of the synopsis, after a frantic car accident in the American country side, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up underground in the doomsday bunker of militant survivalist named Howard (John Goodman), whose declaration of an American or world evasion is seemingly accurate. Affirming that the outside world is contagious with toxic air, Michelle is locked away with Howard and his labourer Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), faced with the challenge of discovering who she can trust once discovering each other’s dark pasts and wild paranoia.

John Goodman’s astonishing performance of the ex-naval marine Howard leaves the audience stunned and bewildered.

Working in perfect harmony with the screenwriters (Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken and Damien Chazelle), Goodman was able to intensify his character’s unusual mannerisms and mistrustful behaviour, often misleading the audience to incorrectly decipher his intended meanings in lines or scenes. Even though it comes to light that Howard has been preparing for a nuclear attack or Y2K disaster for most of his life, he is not presented as a foolish redneck wearing a tin foil hat, but rather a conscientious survivalist who (as evident) will go the extra mile to stay alive.

Adding to Goodman’s outstanding performance is Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who gives the performance of her life. Centred around her character Michelle, Winstead is integral to almost every shot of the film and possesses a real noteworthy presence in front of the camera, producing a very real performance under an extremely hysterical and terrifying state of affairs. From an acting standpoint, it could not be faulted; even John Gallagher Jr.’s portrayal of Emmet successfully brought the film back to a sense of reality, adding a perfect blend of truthfulness and compassion to a rather overwhelming film.

Even though a large majority of the film is shot within a single location (that being Howard’s bunker), this does not take away from the action and suspense of the film.

To his credit, director Dan Trachtenberg does not even momentarily apply the brakes or tire on the tension and action within any scene. The audience is forever left on angst and must question what is real and what is paranoia. The audience’s senses are left open to feelings of claustrophobia, imprisonment and an unfamiliar sum of time. The script makes clever little acknowledgements to Michelle’s predicament and inability to rationalize what is real or fake by making the character’s pastime a puzzle, having to understand and piece together their roommates’ tales of circumstances.

10 Cloverfield Lane
Thanks to www.collider.com for the image.

I do not wish to disclose with great detail the only negative of the film, as it will detract from the plot. However, I still wish to say that the film concludes on a rather dissatisfying par, ultimately impairing an almost ideal movie. A good 90 percent of the viewing was remarkable and entertaining, with the remaining 10 percent being displeasing to say the least. However, a minor annoyance compared to the great lengths of how much the movie gets right allows “10 Cloverfield Lane” to still deliver a taunting mystery thriller that works to create an exhilarating cinematic event.

For his first feature-length film, director Dan Trachtenberg really nails it.

10 Cloverfield Lane” is smart, exciting and consistently gripping the audience with its creepy undertone. Despite a fairly insufficient ending, it is still highly entertaining and a high-quality film.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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