10 Cloverfield Lane was conceived in secret and hidden from the public until a mysterious unexpected trailer dropped about two months ago. Producer J.J. Abrams described it as a blood relative to the 2008 monster movie Cloverfield. The actual watching of this movie was a mystery. As the film progresses we never get a handle on where things are going and that is part of the sheer suspenseful joy of watching it. It unfolds like a Alfred Hitchcock film and plays like an episode of the Twilight Zone. It stays several steps ahead of the audience and just when we begin to feel comfortable, it pulls the proverbial rug out from under us.
The majority of this film takes place in a small space with only three main characters. The film doesn’t feel like the slow burn that it is because of the dangerous tension between the characters. The viewer is also so preoccupied with trying to figure out what exactly is happening. The film feeds us little bits if information piece by piece and we’re never really sure of anything until the very end. This movie works best when you walk in with no expectations. Personally, I’ve never seen the original Cloverfield film, so I didn’t have any preconceived notions of what I was going to see. With that being said, this film was brilliant from start to finish. The three actors; John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr. and Mary Elizabeth Winstead are amazing as three people who are trapped together in a confined space. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is especially good as our protagonist. We view the events through her eyes and we’re never quite sure if she is being protected or held against her will. As the hero in this journey she is smart, strong, resourceful, and also very vulnerable.
John Goodman is absolutely captivating as a man who is either a villain or hero of this story. His performance is what makes this film work. In one moment he could be a lovable father figure and in another moment a deranged maniac. Goodman expertly plays so many sides of this complicated man that we never really figure him out completely. His performance combined with Winstead is electric.
Towards the end, the mystery of what exactly is happening is revealed. Critics of the film may say that the film suddenly changes its tonality or even switches genres, but the things we see are…well you just have to see it for yourself, but the film is brilliant in how it keeps you guessing. I will say this, once you realize what genre this film really is everything does make sense.
10 Cloverfield Lane was directed by Dan Trachtenberg who previously did movie and pop culture commentary on the Internet, directed a few commercials and also directed a fan film. This is his first feature film and he does an amazing job of creating tension and capturing the audiences attention by creating mystery and uncertainty. This is a film that shouldn’t be explained or talked about too much without being seen. See it! It’s a thrill ride.