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Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane

Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman star in Paramount Pictures' 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE

The marketing of 10 Cloverfield Lane is as mysterious as the movie itself attempts to be. From my standpoint that’s a good thing as we don’t get to know much about what’s going on until it’s time for us to find out. Doing things in this style allows for viewers to become intrigued at the very least while giving us hope that what is soon unveiled in this would be sequel won’t be a major let down.

In this movie, a woman named Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) awakens to find herself locked inside of a cellar after an accident. The man who put her there is Howard (John Goodman), a doomsday prepper who believes that he’s saving her from an outside world filled with nothing but dead bodies and danger from an unknown threat. Not knowing if she can trust him, the young woman must decide if she should stick around in order to survive or try her best to break free from what could be other potential dangers within the walls of the stronghold that’s supposed to be protecting them.

One of the first things potential viewers need to know is that 10 Cloverfield Lane is NOT a horror film. It’s actually more of a suspenseful drama with small hints of mystery thrown in. That’s important to know since first movie is basically a scary movie, but this one kind of goes its own way in that sense. Instead of trying to frighten you in that way, it’s asking questions that can create tension and uncertainty among the crowd.

Having the story that’s being told make sense is a good way to accomplish that. I admire that the people behind this do try to make that happen. There’s a sensible part of the picture that allows for that to happen. One way they do this is with the effective use of foreshadowing. Yes, it’s usually somewhat easy to spot, but it’s something that’s shows that they put thought behind much of what is being put onto the screen for audiences who go out of their way to see it.

As far as the level of entertainment this creates, that’s something that’s a little harder to admire. That’s because everything up until the beginning of act three is just okay. That’s especially true for the second act. This portion bogs the movie down more than you would probably like. The pace during this period is a slow-burning one that may likely bore some and dissatisfy a few more. There’s a slight chance that you may also be able to appreciate this part, but it’s a challenge to see exactly how it can entertain in many instances.

That’s not to say that the second act is a complete waste. As does most of the film, this relies heavily on the actors, but it does so even more than it should. This is where movies set in one area tend to struggle a many instances since they can sometimes count on the actors to carry them too much. This has always been a danger in movies that are done like this in my mind, and 10 Cloverfield Lane doesn’t really do anything to alter my way of thinking. Even though this is supposed to be the meatiest act of any film, making this shorter in this specific instance could have assisted in avoiding the lull.

As I just pointed out, the actors are given the burden of carrying the film for the most part since there isn’t a ton going on outside of watching them and their relationships form and change. While all of three of the primary actors are consistently showing good qualities here, John Goodman proves to be the best of the bunch. I mainly say that, because he has more to do in a way due to him being asked to be both amusing and serious at the same time while delivering everything with the dry personality of his awkward character.

The other two are essentially the same throughout their entire run in front of the camera and never really show many layers to their characters. That’s not necessarily a criticism of them, because no one is in a situation where they change or grow here. Goodman’s character on the other hand has multiple layers already that just begin to show themselves over time. I guess you can say the movie and its tone kind of shifts the more we see his personality.

While there isn’t enough to make 10 Cloverfield Lane into a genuine sequel to Cloverfield, there are a number of small features that link them together. There’s also enough to turn this into a stand alone if they wanted to go that route instead. Either way, there’s some things here that make it worth checking out at least once even if there’s nothing in it that will make turn this into an enormous cinematic success for those of us who choose to give it a chance.

Rating: PG-13

Director: Dan Trachtenberg

Cast:
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
John Goodman
John Gallagher Jr.

Film Length: 105 minutes

Release Date: March 11, 2016

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

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