It’s time for another Epic Film Guys mini-sode! Our episode lengths have been going a little long lately, so rather than cram our review of 10 Cloverfield Lane into the full show coming this Thursday, we decided to drop it today as a special treat for all of you out there. So please check it out and let us know what you thought of this movie! Suffice to say we both quite enjoyed it, and we hope you do too. Keep scrolling down for the full text version of Nick’s review!
10 Cloverfield Lane caused two completely different reactions in me, initially. On one hand, I was extremely disappointed by the lack of connections to the first film. Howard worked for the same company responsible for waking up the Cloverfield monster? That’s it? It seems like a quick cash grab to try to tie this to Cloverfield, knowing the shock marketing and extremely secretive production would drive interest much as it did with Matt Reeves’ film. This film apparently takes place in a world wherein the events of Cloverfield never actually happened. None of this makes a lick of sense, JJ. It wouldn’t have been too hard for that monster outside to be a parasite. That said… I get it. They didn’t want to tie it to the first but rather, wanted to create a film that had a similar “feeling” but was altogether its own thing. After my initial disappointment, I was actually fine with it.
The second reaction was one of complete exhilaration. What a fantastic little film this was. From the opening scene, wherein you learn so much about Michelle without a lick of dialogue. The film keeps ratcheting up the tension as she wakes up in the bunker and meets Howard and Emmett, who insist some kind of attack has happened and that they must stay sealed down in the bunker. Howard claims to have saved the girl after a car accident, but she refuses to trust him, drawing his ire on more than one occasion. The tension builds until the moment when she smashes the bottle over his head and tries to escape, only to be stopped at the last moment by something that truly shocks her.
Several elements in 10 Cloverfield Lane work extremely well, from Dan Trachtenberg’s excellent interior shots of the bunker, at first making it seem claustrophobic and dark, and later making it a fun, inviting, and downright “home-y” place. The script keeps you guessing throughout the runtime, on whether or not Howard is being honest, and about exactly what happened outside of the bunker- if anything. The film shifts tone abruptly several times, from intense psychological thriller to a quirky family comedy to an intensive horror film. Each time, the shift doesn’t feel unnatural or unearned, as the script has naturally driven the characters in this direction, thanks in no small part to an amazing performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead and a simply brilliant John Goodman as Howard, who is packed so full of nuance that it’d take numerous viewings of the film just to analyze the depths of the greatness in it. Howard is equal parts kidnapper and survivalist, with an intense vitriol and equally whimsical smirk.
Make no mistake, this film will pull you to the edge of your seat and keep you perched there as you continue to invest in these characters, something the film does effortlessly. Not since last year’s Ex Machina have so few characters been so intensely engrossing, a testament to the director, the script, and the amazing actors behind it. As she moves through the plot, there are several damn near fist-pumping moments of happiness for Michelle as she grows stronger and more self-assured. And when she finally escapes the bunker and learns the truth, the payoff doesn’t in any way feel cheap.
It isn’t related to the original film, true. No Cloverfield monster to be found here. Don’t let that rob you from what is truly going to be an early contender for top ten lists come the end of the year. Goodman and Winstead turn in performances that simply have to be seen to be believed. 9/10.