10 Cloverfield Lane


Director: Dan Trachtenberg.
Screenplay: Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, Damien Chazelle.
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher, Jr., Suzanne Cryer.

“Crazy is building your ark after the flood has already come”

For some reason or other, Dan Trachtenberg is a director who’s name has been familiar to me. Considering this is his first feature length film and I haven’t seen any of his short films, I have absolutely no idea why his name rings a bell. That aside, Trachtenberg is a name that won’t be going away any time soon after this impressively handled debut that follows on (loosely) from Matt Reeves and J.J. Abrams’ 2008, found-footage horror film, Cloverfield.

After a near fatal car accident, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) awakens in an underground cellar with Howard (John Goodman) who brings her meals and nurses her wounds. Howard proceeds to tell her that he saved her from an apocalyptical event and that the outside world has come under attack. With no evidence to suggest so, Michelle is left questioning whether Howard is actually her saviour or her captor.

Having just recently viewed Mojave in the hope that I could have been approaching a tense, low-key thriller, I was left sorely disappointed. Sometimes the mood takes where you just want to be on the edge of your seat and 10 Cloverfield Lane is exactly the type of film that delivers that tension. Whether or not you’ve seen the original Cloverfield is neither here nor there as this film works in it’s own right. In fact, any prior knowledge allows only the slightest of insights – with Abrams himself describing the film as merely a “blood-relative” or “spiritual successor”.This is an altogether different beast; the found footage approach is ditched, as is the grand spectacle of events (for the most part) in favour of a more deliberate and focused affair. This, in turn, brings about an intense and claustrophobic psychological thriller. John Goodman’s volatile Howard is the man behind the construction of an underground bunker and his apocalyptic story of how the world outside has come under chemical attack is really all we’ve got to rely on and it’s this premise that has you constantly questioning events. It’s a slow drip of psychological terror but all the more effective as a result of Dan Trachtenberg having a thorough handle on the material. There are several moments of watching just three characters interact in their cramped conditions by sharing meals together and playing board games to pass the time but these events, in all their simplicity, still manage to grip like a vice. In all honesty, the least said about the plot the better but rest assured that the pacing is competently constructed with never a dull or clock watching moment and the performances of Winstead and Goodman bring the requisite intensity to make the whole thing believable. Sometimes a direct sequel to a successful film can often create expectations and despite the filmmaker’s ambitions these expectations can often lead to disappointment. However, with J.J. Abrams again overseeing the production and a promising new director in Trachtenberg, the decision to take this slight tie-in in a different direction altogether pays dividends. It could even herald the way in how an original story can be opened up to new, franchise, possibilities.Mark Walker

Trivia: The film’s life began as a script called The Cellar (which had nothing to do with the Cloverfield universe, and was at one time also known as Valencia). It was to be a project for Damien Chazelle before he left to do Whiplash and the script was then acquired by J.J. Abrams and adapted to become 10 Cloverfield Lane.

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35 Responses to “10 Cloverfield Lane”

  1. One of my favorites of the year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved it. EXCEPT the ending sequence. The alien invasion, their hunt for her and immediate disappearance seemed out of place next to the STORY which was underground with the three characters. John Goodman gave his best performance. It was as you say, a psychological thriller Hitchcock would have approved of.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Saw it recently and it was stunning, great film with amazing performances which also managed to very unpredictable with its story

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, spot-on, Nostra. The unpredictability was a huge plus. It keeps you guessing right through to the end and never wavers on it’s tension.

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      • Do you listen to the /Filmcast podcast? He’s a friend of that show and recently also was a guest talking about the movie. Interesting listen…

        Liked by 1 person

      • I do, Nostra. That’s a great little podcast and the Trachtenberg interview was very interesting. It’s great to hear how he built his reputation and finally made it hollywood.

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  4. Nice review Mark. I’m a big fan of the original Cloverfield and I thought this movie was superb as well. I’m not sure whether this is a true continuation or just a sequel in name only but regardless 10 Cloverfield Lane is a great thriller. I really loved Goodman’s and Winstead’s performances, they both make the film.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Charles. I didn’t like the original Cloverfield when I first saw it but when I revisited it, I really enjoyed it. This one may be different but the direction they took the story really worked. I was hooked from the opening minutes and it sustained itself right through the end. It’s a fabulous thriller.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice review Mark. Ended on a very silly note. However, it kept me interested enough throughout to give it the benefit of the doubt.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a meal was made both about the film sharing the ‘Cloverfield’ moniker and the way it ended. I think both arguments are null and void by the fact that every little bit of film up until the ending has you firmly locked into this reality. Without making this a spoiler-heavy comment, I”ll just say that I could not really see any other way this movie could have gone. I thought this was an excellent movie, and I still have yet to see Cloverfield itself. Nice work dude

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I don’t get the big issue with ending. Like you, I don’t know what else people wanted from it. It was a good change of pace and direction and it fit rather well for me. The original Cloverfield is good but they’re different films altogether. This was real treat, though.

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  7. I like the sound of this. I love John Goodman.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great review Mark! I really want to get my hands on this one and check it out sometime, it seems that it is well worth the watch!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s very different from the original, Zoë. As I was saying to you before, I’m not overly keen on found footage but Cloverfield worked for me. I’d say I actually enjoyed this one more, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I enjoyed it, and always like seeing Goodman in these kind of ‘terrifying monster’ roles. Had absolutely no problem with the ending, especially as I expected something like that given the title, so it has been a bit of a surprise to see so many people take issue with it. I thought it was great the way it opened up to the outside world again after being cooped up for so long in the bunker…it’s like the film finally exhales after a deep breath.

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    • Your comment sums up my thoughts exactly, Stu. Why do people have a problem with the use of “Cloverfield” in the title and a problem with the ending? Surely, they go hand-in-hand and bring the whole thing together. It seems fitting to me and the ending was a nice change of pace from what went before.

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      • Yeah, I don’t get it at all! As soon as I saw the title I figured it’d end with something alien-related. Even if it had been more of a surprise I suspect I’d have been happy to go along with it anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, we definitely had the same thinking. Despite expecting it, I still questioned Goodman’s character throughout. It’s quite an achievement to keep you guessing when the answer is in the title anyway. Again, like you, I think it would have still worked even if I had no idea what to expect. It was a pretty seamless transition.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m gonna have to get this on DVD after reading this great review. Nice work Mark.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What did you think of the ending? I have mixed emotions about it. On the one hand, I thought it betrayed everything that we both liked about the movie up until that point. But then again, it was actually really scary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t mind the ending, Matt. It went a little over the top but I thought it tied in nicely with using the Cloverfield name and it was a welcome shift in the storyline that went before it. It was a WTF moment but I ran with it.

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  12. Are you stoked about watching another instalment in this series cause I sure as hell am! I loved this movie and was totally with the ending. Glad you had a blast too mate.

    Liked by 1 person

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