2008’s Cloverfield was an entertaining movie, but 10 Cloverfield Lane brings entertainment to a whole other level.
Brilliantly written and coaxially directed, you know very early on that it’s not going to be a bad film. When the audience has that kind of trust in the filmmakers, it’s a very pleasurable experience. Driven by Bear McCreary’s very deliberate score, every moment of this film is calculated and poised.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Michelle, a young woman running away from something–a relationship, we conclude. Then, not even 5 minutes into the film, something abrupt happens while she’s driving. She gets hit by another car, sending her violently spinning off the road.
In the next scene she wakes up to a prison-like room with no windows. She’s chained to the wall. In walks a man named Howard, played by John Goodman. Goodman plays this role how you wish he’d play every role. He’s mysterious and crazy and infernal. You’re never sure if you should trust him or not. Sometimes you feel like he’s okay, but other times he does things that make you reconsider.
It turns out they’re in a bomb shelter. There is one other person down there with them–a younger guy, about Michelle’s age, named Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.). Howard claims, to Michelle and Emmett’s ignorance, that the Earth’s air is now chemically contaminated and unbreathable. Michelle and Emmett aren’t sure what to believe, but they stick together and have no choice but to trust Howard.
It’s like two movies in one. On the first hand, you have a guy who’s insane and may be actually kidnapping you, and on the other hand, there could be a possible post-apocalyptic scenario above ground. But it might not matter either way. Just because a crazy guy has a bomb shelter, doesn’t mean he’s not still a crazy guy.
Director Dan Trachtenberg does a fantastic job in his feature film debut. The movie is almost entirely set in this cramped underground bunker, yet he finds a way to fill all 1 hour and 43 minutes of film without it ever feeling repetitive or boring. We’re constantly on the edge of our seats. It’s one of the best suspense films in years. Hitchcock would be proud.