Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.
Run Time: 103 mins
’10 Cloverfield Lane’ is a ‘spiritual’ sequel to the 2008 hit ‘Cloverfield’ that was highly anticipated for 6 months after a very secretive trailer was released in the Summer of 2007. (Read more about this here). Straight off the heels on ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’, producer J. J. Abrams released a trailer for this unexpected sequel and once again, fans got their hopes up after the first film had been so warmly received. Like with all of Abrams’ works, the trailer once again was very vague and holds a lot of the twists that the film has to offer up its sleeve. It really is genius marketing. One of the gifts that ‘Cloverfield’ gave us was director Matt Reeves who went on to direct, ‘Let Me In’ and ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’. This sequel is directed by Dan Trachtenberg in his debut so he too could be destined for success. The film features an impressive cast featuring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr., the three of them staying in an underground bunker after Goodman’s patchy character reveals that there has been an attack on the world which is uninhabitable. So is the film any good or is this just an unworthy cash grab associated with the first film?
’10 Cloverfield Lane’ is an incredible, intense Hitchcockian film that is taut and claustrophobic and gives us three fantastic performances from its trio. The script is absolutely terrific and it’s very easy to spot ‘Whiplash’ director, Damien Chazelle’s contribution. Dan Trachtenberg’s direction is very astute and assured and he will surely go on to do great things. It is a superb film and is 5-star material. Unfortunately, all this good work is undone by a very lacklustre final 15 minutes which is very haphazardly handled and tarnishes all the good work done and leaves a very sour note on all the development the film has undergone to set the audience up to its ending. However, just taking the film alone with the exception of this muddled ending, it is near-perfect.
The cast are vital in this film and if they weren’t convincing, the film wouldn’t have been as successful as it has been. I have not been a fan of Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the past, but in this she is absolutely fantastic in a career-best performance. Her character is constantly kept in the dark throughout the film and her development as a character is very well-realised but I did find her transformation into a full-on action hero towards the end of the film a little unrealistic. John Gallagher Jr is also very sound here and is someone who doesn’t play in films often so this hopefully should be a break for him. However, John Goodman completely steals the show here in what is a career-best performance for him. The audience are never sure whether or not his character can be trusted or not and Goodman plays the role with so much charisma. At times, he is downright terrifying whereas at times, the audience are fairly sympathetic towards him.
The story is very well-handled and plenty is left up to the viewer’s imagination which is very effective. It is so well-directed, especially the first few minutes leading up to the opening credits feel straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock film and there are many encounters between the characters that are so cleverly scripted. At times, the film is very intense and I am a little surprised that the BBFC only gave the film a 12A which I feel is a little lenient. Without giving spoilers, it really is such a shame that all the good work is undone in the film’s climax which was so desperately disappointing.
I had not heard of Bear McCreary before this, but the score for this film is incredible and is very Bernard Herrman-esque. The first ‘Cloverfield’ was famous for having no score at all save for a 12 minute piece called ‘Roar!’ in the closing credits by Abrams-regular, Michael Giacchino. McCreary is another talent to watch and I’m sure will land some very interesting projects given the success of this film.
Overall, ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ is a stunning piece of cinema and is very intense and carefully directed by newcomer Dan Trachtenberg. The cast here are incredible with John Goodman stealing the show. It’s just a real shame that all the good work is undone in the last 15 minutes but with the exception of this, this film is very impressive. It will be interesting to see if Abrams can strike gold thrice with the announcement of this film 2 months prior to its release being very unexpected. To strike with the element of surprise, perhaps there will have to be an even longer break between this and a third instalment if there is one. Both film’s have been marketed fantastically and the prospect of a third film must be very daunting for the crew if they want it to have the same impact.