2008’s Cloverfield was a film which I found to be quite enjoyable. It’s certainly one of the best to make use of the found-footage technique (or gimmick) and its viral campaign was a huge amount of fun. When the trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane sneaked up on the world, a mere two months before its release in theatres, I felt that excitement wash over me all over again. I found the viral sites, I attempted to crack the codes and solve the riddles, and I theorised on what this new movie might bring.
Truth is, it’s a new beast entirely. This isn’t a problem – not for me, anyway. Sure, when a sequel walks a similar path to its predecessor, you very often get a fine, safe product. The downside, though, is that it’s little more than the same film again with a few minor details and proper nouns swapped out. It’s much more refreshing to see a sequel go an entirely different route altogether. Sometimes audiences don’t like this so much, as was the case with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, where the 1930s-adventure franchise took a distinctly 1950s-scifi turn. Other times, audiences like it very much, such as when Alien, a horror film, was given an action sequel inAliens. While 10 Cloverfield Lane is certainly no Aliens, it was a fine movie that changed up the genre of its own predecessor. Where Cloverfield was a found-footage monster-movie, more action than anything else, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a taut, claustrophobic thriller set within the confines of a personal bunker.
Our main protagonist is Michelle (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who is knocked unconscious in a car accident before waking up in the underground structure. She, along with a man named Emmett (played by John Gallagher Jr.), have allegedly been rescued from the apparently contaminated world above by the eccentric, ex-naval Howard Stambler. John Goodman steals the film in this role. Having had “something to do with satellites” (if you recall, the final scene of Cloverfield reveals an object falling into the ocean from the sky, thus triggering the events of that film), Stambler has been preparing this bunker for a long time. Entirely nonchalant in his insanity, he is both hilarious and terrifying. For the duration of the film, the audience is kept on their toes in regards to the extent of his madness. Is he right about the outside world? If so, just how right is he?
The three-person (for the most part, anyway) cast work excellently together, as levels of trust rise and fall across the trio of relationships. Dan Trachtenberg does a great job, especially considering this is his directorial debut. He keeps the suspense at its highest levels, only giving us a break when we’re ready to have a heart attack.
It has very little in common with Cloverfield in regards to genre (or even story, frankly) but it’s nice to have a sequel that does its own thing. I’m already looking forward to another instalment in the franchise, and I hope it’s altogether different again – not that we’ll hear anything about it any time soon; it seems that Bad Robot is very, very good at keeping these things under wraps.
For a more spoiled version of the movie, head on over to Alex’s website and click the +spoilers button.