’10 Cloverfield Lane’ an unexpected thrill ride

Isaac Owens, Broadcasting Manager

With whispers of a sequel for 2008’s Cloverfield traveling through the Hollywood grapevine for nearly a decade, producer J.J. Abrams sideswiped fans of the original by dropping the next chapter right in their unsuspecting laps.

First announced only two months ago, in mid January, Abrams brought forth from the shadows a completely finished film set to be released in March. With only two months to stew over the news, worried speculations erupted around the reasoning for the tightly kept secret project.

What came from the extremely limited advertising campaign was outstandingly enticing and unforeseen treat.

Initially the biggest worry came from the news that, when written, the movie’s script was not intended to be a Cloverfield sequel. Original titled The Cellar, the valid fears laid in the thought that the Cloverfield brand was slapped onto an adjusted script to sell more tickets. While this may be true, it in no way harms the final product of the film.

The greatest problem some may have with 10 Cloverfield Lane is that it is not a direct sequel to the previous film. For fans going into the new movie expecting to see old characters and a continuing plotline, disappointments may be had. The latest Cloverfield movie stand almost entirely alone from the original and most likely for its benefit.

Ditching the shakycam found footage style of the first movie, 10 Cloverfield Lane follows the technical style of any other straightforward film. Along with standing apart from the first technically, the movie has an altogether different form of narrative.

Tracking the events following a calamitous car accident, protagonist Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) finds herself abducted into an underground fallout shelter. Upon waking she is greeted by her kidnapper Howard (John Goodman), who informs her he saved her from the dangers lurking above. As the film progresses and pieces of the mystery unfold, Michelle presses to discover why she is being held in the bunker and what outside is she being kept “safe” from.

With its extremely minimal cast, focusing almost entirely on just three characters, 10 Cloverfield Lane’s success rests on its performances. Giving one of the most tense performances of his career, Goodman steals the spotlight in nearly every seen. Being the overall source of the film’s conflict, he creates an unwavering sense of tension that masterfully develops as the film progresses.

Along with its unadulterated performances, the movie’s tensions excel on behalf of its technical achievement. Bear McCreary’s swelling score mixed with loud, frightening and wonderfully jarring sound design makes for some of the most intense and at times horrifying scenes of the movie. In sound design and character creation alone, it is a thoroughly ravishing flick.

Not shying away from including a few quiet and thoughtful moments, rookie director Dan Trachtenberg proves his is a name to keep an eye on. Surpassing the original film in every way, 10 Cloverfield Lane is exactly the simple and fun white knuckle thriller it needed to be.

Between its bizarrely brief advertising campaign and being a movie that no one was really asking for, it is astonishing the movie worked. It’s not a movie that needs a sequel or even necessarily one that leaves you begging for more. 10 Cloverfield Lane is simply a fantastic example of thrilling popcorn cinema that is sure to hold up with continued viewings.