#REVIEW: “10 CLOVERFIELD LANE”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
If you managed to see Transformers when it was released in the summer of 2007, chances are you saw the trailer for a movie where the Statue of Liberty gets decapitated by…something. There was no title; just a January release date and the seal of approval from TV wonder producer J.J. Abrams (back before he was decimating box office records). The Movie would eventually become known as Cloverfield, and the Found-Footage Thriller remains an enigmatic wonder of imagination and ridiculously well done viral marketing.
Fast forward eight years later and we now have 10 Cloverfield Lane – a Movie no one knew existed before the teaser dropped in front of 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi two months ago. Again, viral marketing has spurred interest in the mysterious Film, but has only hinted at its contents. Is it a Sequel? Is it a Prequel? What the hell is going on?
Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) blacks-out during a car accident, and when she wakes up, she finds herself chained to the wall of an underground bunker. She believes she has been kidnapped, but Howard (John Goodman) says he saved her and Emmet (an unfortunately underwritten John Gallagher Jr.) from a chemical attack that has devastated the United States.
Saying anymore would be a disservice to director Dan Trachtenberg’s genuinely terrifying single-location Thriller. But suffice to say, this demented nightmare is not the Cloverfield Sequel anyone could have predicted. Beyond a few vague references to the previous film and the current ARG, this Film is very much its own genuinely claustrophobic dystopia. It moves quickly despite running longer than its thematic predecessor, and leaves precious few moments to catch up. I was left in awe by just how breathless some of the film’s more suspenseful moments quickly become. If it did not have such a troubling final act, I feel like the film would have been absolutely perfect.
Winstead is spectacular as Michelle – acting as both an unstoppable force of nature and as our conduit of curiosity. We learn the truths and mysteries hidden within the bunker alongside her, and feel every aspect of her pain and anguish. This is a very involved performance that Winstead makes into her own personal journey through hell. The Film works on the sheer fact that we want to see her survive by any means necessary, and is a testament to how truly brilliant her performance is.
Somehow Goodman is even better. Think of how intense this otherwise delightful actor can be in Movies like Barton Fink and The Big Lebowski, and then imagine what he can do if he was truly let off the leash. He becomes evil incarnate, and brings a sense of dread that consumes the movie like a plague. Even the slightest emotion is enough to cause a panic. You can never tell if he is lying or being genuine, and Goodman manages to keep you guessing right until the very end. This is a truly monstrous performance, and it just may be the finest one of his career.
10 Cloverfield Lane is simultaneously everything you expect it to be, and absolutely nothing you expect it to be. The two terrific lead performances fuel an absolutely amazing roller coaster that ups the thrills at every turn. But the baffling ending nearly takes away from nearly everything before it, and may prove to be a point of contention for major audiences. That said, if the trailer caught you by surprise like it did for me, then be sure to see this unique Thriller before someone genuinely ruins all the surprises.
Paramount Pictures Canada release 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE on Friday, March 11, 2016.