No matter how good or bad “10 Cloverfiled Lane” ended up being it still has my vote for the best trailer of the year. And it’s only March. But seriously check that trailer out, the vibe is incredible and gives nothing away, unlike the damn Super Bowl spot. There was tons of speculation when this secret project helmed by J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot crew that this was a sequel to the 2008 film “Cloverfield” which is essentially a Godzilla movie captured on film by the screaming running masses on the ground. Was this going to be a parallel story that occurred in the same time frame? Or the aftermath of the initial attack? Or maybe the second wave of alien monster attacks? I will be honest, you have to see the movie, I will not be spoiling anything here.
Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is on a country road leaving behind a serious relationship for unknown reasons, when she is in a car accident. She awakens to find herself in an underground bunker with Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) a local who has made his way into the bunker built by Howard (John Goodman) who tells them that there has been an attack, and that dangerous chemicals have been released on the outside world. That they will be safe as long as they stay locked in the shelter, for however long that may be. Michelle is skeptical about Howard’s unbelievable claims which creates tension among the trio which leads to more questions and even more dire consequences.
Again wether this relates to the original “Cloverfield” is either genius marketing, or false advertising, I will not address here. The film is akin to a bottle episode of television where the characters are in a situation where they have to remain in particular location for the entirety of the running time. You know like in “The West Wing” where there are shots fired at the White House and they are in lock down so it’s two characters per room, just talking. Or in “Breaking Bad” when Walt thinks there is a contaminant in the lab and shuts him and Jesse in for the remainder of the episode. It’s all about the drama and conflict between the characters. And while I didn’t care too much for Winstead’s character arc, I really liked her performance. The same with Gallagher who has a little more meat to his story, though not much more. The real star is Goodman who plays the perfect amount of gentle creepiness blended with cuckoo for co-co puffs. He has a mystery that dwells long after the film is over. The story is pretty basic and I was with it all the way up until the end when you find out what’s really going on. It lost me a little there and had that scent of familiarity.
First time director Dan Trachtenberg starts off kind of artsy with his visuals, and has flashes of originality throughout, ultimately ends up following the paint by numbers of the script which was punched up by writer/director of “Whiplash” Damien Chazelle. Again it’s not so much about the action, but the action of the characters which followed their common formula but were still enjoyable to watch. In the end I really liked the film for the most part, I just expected more on the promise of the trailer and in all honesty, if your going to attach the name Cloverfield to your films title you better make it count.
–Robert L. Castillo