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 for 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.