Genre : Mystery/Thriller/Drama
Country : USA
John Goodman : Howard
Mary Elizabeth Winstead : Michelle
John Gallagher Jr. : Emmett
Director : Dan Trachtenberg
“It’s amazing, you people..
You wear helmets when you ride your bikes, you have seat-belts,
you have alarm systems to protect your homes.
But what do you do when those alarms go off?”
The biggest mistake the creators of this psychological thriller with a bit of SF made, was to give it the title “10 Cloverfield Lane“. Those who expect a sequel to the excellent movie “Cloverfield” (one of the best found footage films for me) will feel they’ve been cheated on. Those who hope this film has nothing to do with it and assume the chosen title is purely a commercial decision, will ultimately be disappointed. “10 Cloverfield lane” is without doubt the most difficult film to write an opinion about, because revealing too much isn’t fair to those who still want to see it. I know now that I’m going to store a battery Molotov cocktails in my basement, because seemingly these are the most ridiculous but also most effective defense weapons against … uh … lets just say opponents.
So don’t keep your hopes up for some nerve-wracking action or a destructive, huge monster that turns a metropolis into ruins. The whole film takes place in a kind of bomb shelter with limited space. It was patiently designed by Howard (John Goodman) who subsequently also provided all the necessary facilities to survive any doomsday scenario he made-up. Howard is a former Marine and has been preparing himself for the end of the world for years already. And that’s what Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is told when she regains consciousness in Howard’s bunker. The world is ruined after some apocalyptic attack and the air is contaminated. She’s chained to the wall, so she’s convinced she’s being kidnapped. Howard on the other hand, claims that she had a car accident and he took care of her and thus saved her life. After she hears the same story told by Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), another survivor who helped building this bunker, she’s back at ease.
What follows is a psychological thriller full of suspicion and doubt. The limited space ensures for an oppressive feeling. It’s better people with claustrophobia avoid this film. Constantly you’re wondering if it’s true about the attack or not. Or is Howard simply a psychopathic madman who came up with this fake story. Repeatedly you’re put on the wrong track. So the plausibility of each option always changes. The most praiseworthy part of this film is the acting of John Goodman. Admittedly I think Goodman is one hell of an actor who gives shape to his character in a natural way. Whether he’s an unscrupulous loan shark as in “The Gambler” or plays an eccentric drug dealer as in “Flight“. Every time it seems as if Goodman was born for the part. The same is true for this movie. On the one hand Howard seems to be a pleasant chubby man with a somewhat neurotic side which makes him a fatalist. On the other hand there’s a veil of secrecy hanging around him and he has a paranoid attitude. It looks as if he has different plans with his guests. In those moments he’s terrifying. The growing distrust between the main characters is portrayed in a fantastic way and it’s extremely fascinating.
And what was the least commendable in this film? The end. The tension is systematically built up during the first hour and a half, but at one stroke it all disappears and it’s replaced by vicarious shame. Not only the ending is filled with nonsensical, idiotic developments, but it feels like they’ve made this denouement at the last minute out of commercial reasons (something I’m allergic to). Frankly, it looks pitifully poor and the response of Michelle is completely implausible (vague description. I know. But it’s necessary since I don’t want to reveal anything). Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve a sneaking suspicion that the interference of J.J. Abrams caused it. Is that why the film title changed from “The cellar” into “10 Cloverfield lane“? Was there another planned denouement at first? Was it rewritten under the influence of Abrams so that fans of “Cloverfield” could be lured to the cinema? I have no idea. But my rating plummeted in less then no time to the same level Howard’s bunker was located. Such a shame. No 10 for this one.