Short reviews for clear and concise verdicts on a broad range of films…
10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg/2016)
There is a satisfying disconnect between 10 Cloverfield Lane and it’s “blood relative” Cloverfield. Rather than a shaky, handheld camera capturing urban chaos, 10 Cloverfield Lane is located within a small space, in rural Texas. This is a tight, exquisitely shot thriller, holding a Herrman-esque score and a professional shine that’s only emphasised by its strong cast. It introduces Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who, full of tears, speeds away from an unhappy relationship. But things take a turn for the worst when she wakes up in a bunker, shackled to a bed and told that above ground only toxic gas remains. We’re not sure who to believe. Howard (John Goodman), the bunker-builder, is creepy but we’re stuck considering whether he is socially inept or, indeed, a criminal kidnapper. Even fellow ‘survivor’, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr) is no rock to lean on, as he trusts Howard a little too much. Nails are bitten and you may let out a scream, as the tension mounts expertly, escalating until the finale that, however loosely, ties the two films together. 10 Cloverfield Lane is an unexpected resounding success, demanding a cinematic encounter that isolates you completely, within this dark, claustrophobic space among these intriguing people.
SPOILER THOUGHT: Is 10 Cloverfield Lane representative of the current status of America? Republican candidates for President argue about “building a wall” to isolate themselves away from the rest of the world, while within their own borders are rampant abuses of power with money overpowering elections and law. Emmett’s assumption about safety within Howard’s house is based on the protection it offers and not on the danger Howard may create. Does Emmett represent the fearful Republican voter, trusting in the promise of Donald Trump while Michelle is the one who didn’t vote for Howard – but is brought along for the ride anyway, against her will. The truth, though, is how much bigger the danger is outside the country and how isolation is also a prison, creating newer issues rather than tackling the issue itself – something Michelle chooses to do in the final moments of 10 Cloverfield Lane. The Houston finale may allude to the inevitably clash between such diverse perspectives and the necessity of working together. Michelle, initially, simply needs to escape, but it dawns on her that by doing that she continues to isolate herself. The solution is in community and turning to others and helping.
This review (excluding the “Spoiler thought”) was originally published for Romford and Havering Post on 23rd March 2016