10 Cloverfield Lane review: Suspend

I finally managed to catch 10 Cloverfield Lane though I’m one of the latest to post a review so here goes. I’m just going to treat this as an individual movie because I’d rather not bring in the half-sequal debate with regards to the previous Cloverfield movie. As it stands, 10 Cloverfield Lane is mightily suspenseful. Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman absolutely nailed it. Daniel Trachtenberg’s directing is flawless in execution and appropriately fear-inducing and claustrophobic. Anxious, phobic and doubtful, I questioned everything I saw just as how Michelle (MEW) became disillusioned with her habitus. As the crescendo hit the high point, I anticipated an ending that would blow me away. It didn’t and it was a damn shame. But I thought through the many other psychological climaxes and resolutions and figured that most, if not all, wouldn’t have gelled well either. Therein lies the problem that’s more perplexing than the movie. It’s tough finding a way to end the story well, perhaps it should have built itself around the lasting impacts of psychological paranoia and trauma. Because the way it ended just felt like an easy cop out.

As you can gather from the trailer, Michelle is trapped with two other men in a basement of Howard’s (John Goodman) house. It’s apparently dangerous to leave the basement as Howard tells s the air is contaminated with some sort of infectious pathogen. Trachtenberg has somehow managed to make something suspenseful from such a confined space. I love how he shifted perspective from time to time and brilliantly captured tension from the corner of a character’s eye to the zoom in on a particular motion. Michelle’s look of utter confusion, a photo of a girl, an ominous stairwell to the exit, the unsettling innocence of a smiling duckie on Howard’s shower curtain and one questionable story to the next; All these little tell-tale signs sends sparks flying, setting alarm signals off in your mind. I have to admit, this was the most tense I’ve felt in a long time since Sicario.

 

Where the little details taunt you with the possibility of something hidden and horrifying, the shocking scenes present themselves as blatant, gruesome yet undecipherable. An infected lady rushes up to the door, begging with literally half her life left, as Michelle is forced to accept a harsh realization. It’s at this moment where the film starts getting really intriguing because we start to doubt both the outside truth and the inside truth. As Michelle is torn between truth and distortion, the relationship between the trio of characters which includes the house designer for Howard’s home becomes a sizzling study of paranoia and mistrust.

Perhaps 10 Cloverfield would have been an absolute stunner had it not latched on to the franchise name Cloverfield, with an end that raises more questions and doubts than the film itself. Give it a new name, throw in more backstory and give it a real kick-ass psychological finale…now that’s what I would’ve liked. Banking on the actual ending took some of the effectiveness and flow out of the movie. 10 Cloverfield’s overpowering paranoia and fear elements were potent devices that set precedence forΒ a deep psychological study. The movie didn’t impress at the end and it watered itself down without the fervour and sheer terror it worked so hard to achieve before.

 

Nevertheless, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a novel feat. Working with set constraints, it is a marvel how Danny Trachtenberg made the film look that good. The dark cauldron that is Howard’s basement is lit up by the tension within. As the walls close in on you and the uneasiness boils over, the film calls upon its audience to ride the ordeal out with our main heroine; If only it rewarded us with the end the film deserves. 10 Cloverfield’s mish-mash of genres is refreshing but extraneous. As the film ended, the tagline ‘Monsters come in all forms’ became less powerful. Though I loved the pulse-skipping furnace of imperfect information and suspicion, this modern drama didn’t fully enflesh the monstrosity in us. 10 Cloverfield suspended itself and couldn’t get down again to kick us out of our wits.

Rating: 8/10 I’m totally up for discussion in the comments as I’m sure most of you would have already seen it, I’m interested to see how ya’ll reacted to it.

 

 

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. I completely agree that it suffers from being tied to Cloverfield. It would have worked so much more without that connection. I loved the ending though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Really? Interesting, see that’s what’s so great about doing this, we all get to hear different opinions. I have no knowledge of the previous film and apparently this didn’t clear things up, so I really didn’t see the need for the connection. I thought the ending took away what the film had been building up…the psychological factor. But I’d love to hear your thoughts about the end πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. Tom says:

    I have a slightly different take. The ending didn’t bother me because I was expecting monsters to pop up at some point. I was prepared with the umbrella title ‘Cloverfield.’ I do, however, think the way things go at the end are nothing compared to how the film builds as it goes on through the first two acts. I totally think it was a weak-ish ending but it worked for me. There’s going to be something happening in a future installment that I’m sure will tie this thing back to the original film and then stuff might start making sense. Idk, that’s all a guess. I could be way wrong (and probably am) πŸ˜‰

    I really liked this observation you made: “It’s at this moment where the film starts getting really intriguing because we start to doubt both the outside truth and the inside truth.” Exactly. Who the hell can we trust here? That sense of mistrust really made most of this movie a hell of a ride

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      I’m just as clueless as you Tom haha!! But if there were to be another installment, I bet it’ll be super sci-fi heavy which,to me, takes away what makes the idea great. Yeah, maybe I didn’t know about the alien part so I was hoping it would just be a psychological thriller. If I could end it, I would show how Michelle perhaps hallucinates the alien invasion, as some neighbours look on in confusion. I think her paranoia and trauma should have been the focus. But in any case, I still enjoyed most of the movie πŸ™‚

      Hehe thanks :)) It’s just so so intense.

      Like

  3. Jay says:

    I really didn’t like the post-bunker stuff – it was too different tonally, different looking, the whole thing felt like some other movie tacked on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Yup, I would have ended it with Michelle hallucinating the alien invasion. Or something to do with her paranoia and psyche. I agree, it didn’t fit the build-up.

      Like

  4. I’d like to see 10 Cloverfield because John Goodman is in it. I’m liking his more recent movie role choices.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Then you’ll love it! Damn he’s one creepy character in the film. Mary Elizabeth Winstead also acted really well.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. erinb9 says:

    I JUST saw this the other night and think your review is spot on, especially your description of doubting everything and constantly changing perspective.

    I think Michelle’s moment of waking up in a dark basement with a strange man echoes one of the most common female nightmares, as well as subconscious female fears of needing to suss out strange men (Will he help or hurt me? Is he a protector or a killer?).

    Maybe that’s the female perspective talking, but I also notice aliens look a lot like grotesque girl parts a lot, maybe echoing some fears about women?

    Anyhow, I thought the acting was fantastic and loved seeing John Goodman in a dark role, since he’s usually the good guy. It was a difficult part to play and I thought he handled it perfectly.

    I absolutely loved it until the end. It felt like the film had great character development and had set up a complex psychological mystery, then without resolving the mystery, suddenly turned into an action flick.

    It was almost like the writers though, “Well, we’re starting *here* and we have to end *here*, so let’s somehow make that happen, even if it doesn’t naturally flow.”

    Maybe it’s just because I love complicated layers and character development, but I felt a little robbed. I found myself wondering what ending would’ve made me happier and it was tough.

    That being said, I LOVED the first nine tenths of the film.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      I can’t agree more. Because I felt robbed too. What was a psychological exploration suddenly became a alien/sci-fi flick. If I were directing it, I’d have ended it with Michelle hallucinating those alien attacks, as can be seen from a cars passing nearby wondering wth is this woman doing?…which isn’t too crazy given how she’s just gone through some crazy shit HAHA.
      Still, I loved most of it, it was super intense :))
      Hm, I never considered the female perspective thing, and I think you’re right, the basement would be an especially scary place for women.
      Come to think of it, that’s a cool observation. I thought they were just super freaky aliens, but damn, now I’m horrified HHAHA they LOOK LIKE the V omg. Makes even more sense I guess, to have a psychological end instead of actual aliens.
      Glad you loved the film!!
      Sorry this is so so late, how are you Erin? πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. erinb9 says:

        I agree. I was kind of hoping that the whole thing was untrue and there would be reasonable explanations for stuff that happened (trying not to put spoilers in).

        But I guess it’s part of a series, so they couldn’t do it?

        I couldn’t quite figure out whether Howard viewed Michelle as a wife or daughter figure. He kept talking about family, and talked about Michelle as a “girl” or “princess.”

        On the other hand, he was explosively jealous when she flirted with Emmett. I kept wondering what his happy family picture looked like.

        Haha, yes just try to un-see the V in the aliens now. I couldn’t help but notice the symbolism, especially with the old Alien series involving aliens bursting out of bellies in a weird quasi-pregnancy/birth way. There’s something to this… this is a pattern πŸ™‚

        I did love it though, overall.

        Doing well! Hope you are doing well too πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      2. jwforeva says:

        Probably yeah, they attached themselves to the cloverfield name so they just had to include the alienz! At first I thought Howard had a psychological problem…because I thought he was constructing this whole alien post-apocalyptic thing as his own fantasy…..so in order to feed that fantasy, he kills the people he captures and deludes himself that he is the ‘lone’ survivor who is constantly in search for other survivors…not knowing that he’s the one who’s been killing them. Idk, sort of like a post-apocalyptic fantasy?

        But going back to your point, I think you’re right, he views her as a sort of princess daughter…or wife…haha or BOTH πŸ˜›
        I am! Did you have a good weekend?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. erinb9 says:

        I LIKE that idea. I was hoping she would be in there for the full year or two, then discover everything was an illusion.

        I like your version though, it would’ve been more satisfying.

        She seemed awfully reckless to me. Maybe I’m too practical, but my thought was if she was going to go after him, wouldn’t it be better to develop a better, quieter plan? That base has a ton of resources in it and she has no idea what she’s facing on the outside. I’d really try to keep resources like that intact, if at all possible.

        There had to have been a better way, haha.

        Yeah, good weekend, though the family has been sick. It happens. Hope you had a great weekend though πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

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