Intense barely beings to describe 10 Cloverfield Lane; the claustrophobia of the bunker leaving me literally trembling as we are taken through a labyrinth of fear and deception.
I haven’t seen 2008s Cloverfield but from what I know this sequel shares little with the found footage giant monster film. As the tagline states, we now have another kind of monster in John Goodman’s Howard, whose intentions we are left constantly questioning till the conclusion. New director Dan Trachtenberg does a brilliant job of making the audience feel as confined as our protagonist whilst not relying too heavily on low key lighting and tight close ups. You really get a sense of relief at the sparse glimpses of the outside world but ironically the mystery of what’s going on outside the bunker remains the only flaw for me; an anti-climax to a hour and a half of electric build up. I found the opening sequence a breath of fresh air when it comes to exposition, telling us about our protagonist without a word much like how Vertigo did to great acclaim; while this certainly isn’t Hitchcock it comes awfully close to rivalling the master of suspense.
Though it is otherwise still good, 10 Cloverfield Lane excels in two areas that make it a required viewing; sound design and performances. John Goodman has featured in countless films but I have yet to see him as terrifying and as complex as he is here. Their are subtleties to Howard that kept me on edge as he swayed from sympathetic to a monster and back again but each time I found myself undeterred by his actions and all to ready to forgive his violent tendencies: surely the fact our protagonist woke up hand cuffed would immediately send off some warning bells. As for our protagonist Michelle, I was happy not only to see the immensely talented Mary Elizabeth Winsted in a leading role but also to see a trapped character far from your typical Damsel in distress; she proves very resourceful throughout and doesn’t rely on some ‘Deus ex Machina’ to save the day. John Gallagher jr fulfils his purpose well but definitely takes a backseat to the Michelle-Howard relationship. As for the music, it perfectly enhances the tension and leans the film more into the horror genre with any lull in noise causing my fists to tighten in anticipation of a jump scare (which by the way brought the man next to me to a near catatonic state). While the scares were effective they, once combined with the general intensity, made for an uncomfortable viewing experience that makes it hard to recommend a second watch – I certainly wont see it again for quite some time but this in no way detracts from its stellar quality as an original feature in a slew of remakes and adaptations.
All in all, 10 Cloverfied Lane was a compelling thriller with a few brilliant performances and a brilliant debut for Dan Trachtenberg who I will certainly keep my eye on for the future.