10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

brooke okay, that was bomb IMHO. I’ma dive right into this delicious slice of movie heaven.
If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve already seen more than you need about 10 Cloverfield Lane. It helps to know as little as possible, so I’ll try not to get too specific while also explaining why I thought this movie was so great.

casey To quote the bard, “Oh Cloverfield, Cloverfield, wherefore art thou Cloverfield?” Hmm, maybe you should talk about what you liked before I get into that.

brooke Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Michelle, a woman who, after being knocked unconscious in a car wreck, finds herself trapped in a small bunker with two men. One of them, Howard (John Goodman), owns the bunker and claims to have saved her from some major disaster aboveground. But Michelle is not privy to any of this information and it quickly becomes hard to tell whether Goodman is a well-meaning, oddball prepper or an actual sociopath.The viewer, like Michelle, has no idea who to trust or what’s going to happen.

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casey And the other guy, a former contractor who helped build the bunker and escaped to it when all hell (apparently) broke loose, seems friendly enough, but he’s also kind of a weird dude. As events progress, both the viewer and Michelle are increasingly drawn into Howard’s paranoid world, thanks largely to the movie’s claustrophobic direction.

brooke It forces you to feel Michelle’s tension from being underground with these strange men, especially Howard, who seems to alternative between helpful and gaslighting behavior. But Michelle proves to be resourceful. Every difficult situation she faces pushes her to a new level of survival, and Winstead convincingly portrays her sense of surprise in her own abilities.
I absolutely love that this movie, despite being in the Cloverfield family, manages to be 95% psychological thriller topped off with 5%…something else. It’s the weird cherry on top of a twisted sundae.

casey I think, as I alluded to before, my only issue with the movie is the name. I can imagine a universe where it’s exactly the same but called “The Bunker” or something, and it would be so much better! Even though 10 Cloverfield Lane has only the loosest association with the 2008 monster movie, if you know anything about the original or producer J.J. Abram’s penchant for sci-fi plot twists, it’s not difficult to basically guess where it will eventually go, which blunts the tension the movie depends on. But if you can forget about that, the movie is very good at what it does: Goodman conveys a sense of creepy but oddly childlike menace that drives the film, and the slow-burn tension is very palpable throughout. It’s just too bad the title gives so much away.

brooke That’s all fair, but the ending also feeds back into the warrior spirit Michelle spends the whole film developing, which simply does not exist within her at the beginning. Through the film, she learns to drive her own action as she fights for survival in so many small ways.
I think what I like most about this movie is what it isn’t. It isn’t about helplessness, rape, or any number of bad tropes other similar movies might have focused on. It’s unique, empowering, and a little weird, and I love it.

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