In a nutshell, Bored & dangerous says: “As far as tense, claustrophobic, nail biting thrillers go, this is pretty fantastic.”
“Crazy is building your ark after the flood has already come.”
As I said in my Super 8 review, I’m a recent JJ Abrams convert. His association with the twist and cliffhanger heavy Lost, along with his seeming obsession with keeping everything about his movies a secret seemed like over compensation for having no real substance. Then, last year, I finally watched Lost and loved it. The Abrams lead Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the franchise comeback we were all hoping for back when George Lucas made the prequels. Even Abrams’ Star Trek movies made me enjoy a franchise I’d never cared about before. All of that is to say that if 10 Cloverfield Lane came out a year ago, I never would have bothered with it. But my 2015 year of Abrams meant that now, seeing 10 Cloverfield Lane was a forgone conclusion.
Driving through dark, country roads at night, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is distracted by a phone call from her fiancé and flies off the road. She wakes with a broken leg, chained to a stretcher in a concrete bunker. Understandably freaking out, she only panics more when she meets Howard (John Goodman), the man who mended her leg and chained her to the bed. He attempts to put Michelle’s mind at ease by explaining that they are in an underground bunker, possibly the only survivors left in the world after some sort of massive attack. Was it the Russians, was it aliens? Howard has plenty of theories.
Also in the bunker is Emmett (John Gallagher Jr). Several years ago, he worked as laborer, helping Howard build the bunker. When the attack began, he went back to Howard for refuge. Eventually, Michelle sees enough evidence to believe Howard and Emmett’s story, and the three even begin to live a somewhat normal, almost familial life. But there’s always an uneasiness and suspicion between the three that never totally goes away.
Before my Abrams 180, 10 Cloverfield Lane is in no way the kind of movie I would actively seek out. I’m not into thrillers, I’m not into horror and I’m not heavily into sci-fi. And based on the trailers, this movie could have been all three of those. But I’m really glad I did give this a go, because as far as tense, claustrophobic, nail biting thrillers go, 10 Clovefield Lane is really fantastic. Winstead sells the evolution of going from petrified prisoner, to trusting house guest. And Goodman expertly slips back and forth from menacing, to caring, to slightly sinister, to believable savior so well, that it’s totally understanding that Michelle might come to be genuinely grateful for his efforts. Until the next little detail is just that tiny bit off, and the suspicion comes flooding back.
When it first came out, Abrams copped a bit of flack from fans of the original Cloverfield because it turned out that 10 Cloverfield Lane was in no way a sequel of that movie. No returning characters, no giant monster to contend with, no real links at all the previous movie at all. Abrams’ defense was that this is a “spiritual” sequel, and that he may produce more movies with Cloverfield in the title that have nothing to do with either of these. On the one hand, I call bullshit on that excuse. It’s obvious that they had made a cool, modest thriller, and realised that cramming “Cloverfield” into the title would mean an automatic audience. On the other hand, I have to respect that kind of marketing genius.