All the way back in 2008, Cloverfield burst out of the leftfield and onto our screens. A big monster movie told through the found-footage format, it still stands up as a pretty nifty mash-up that introduced some nice elements to the rapidly stagnating genre. The fact that Cloverfield had JJ Abrams tagged as a producer helped smooth the way for a much wider release and box office success,
Fast forward almost a decade, and it is safe to say that most of us had long forgotten about Cloverfield and any rumours of a sequel in the works. So it was a surprise when 10 Cloverfield Lane popped up on the radar at the start of the year. It was already completely shot and edited before its release had been officially announced.
Even more surprising was that it looked like it has very little to do with gigantic, city-stomping monsters.
Set almost entirely in the confines of an underground bunker, the film is a tense, and sometimes darkly comic, psychological thriller. The last thing that Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) remembers is packing her belongings into her car, leaving a goodbye note to her fiancee, and hitting the road. She wakes up in the subterranean stronghold of doomsday nut Howard (John Goodman), who says he rescued her after her car crashed on the motorway.
Something, he insists, has gone wrong with the outside world, just as he always knew it would. Local loveable dimwit Emmett (John Gallagher Jr), who helped Howard build the bunker, is also along for the ride, which may be a long one, according to the hulking and paranoid Howard, who claims it is best to wait inside for one to two years before attempting to make contact with the world outside.
So begins the fun and thrilling mystery – the bunker is equipped with everything the trio will need to survive, except for space and privacy.
Goodman’s Howard is equal parts endearing and terrifying, a whining tyrant that proves too much to bear for the rebellious Michelle.
Much of the greatness of the film lies in the dynamic between Goodman and Winstead, who both showcase some incredible performances.
Howard incessantly chips away at Michelle as the archetypal father figure – benign while you follow his rule, but ferocious and unpredictable when challenged. Cue Cold War-style standoffs politely played out over freeze-dried dinners, and Machiavellian plots secretly hatched while playing endless games of Monopoly, and you’ll be somewhere close to the dark charms of the film.
Director Dan Trachtenberg does a solid job in bringing across a mounting sense of claustrophobia and paranoia., and even a wilted finale doesn’t spoil 10 Cloverfield Lane, a film that is so chock full of tension that you won’t necessarily care how it ends, you’ll just be relieved that it has.