By Joe Goncalves
“10 Cloverfield Lane” is an incredibly difficult movie to review, as it’s hard to speak of it without spoiling the entire experience for future viewers. That being said, it is also one of the most bizarre viewing experiences you’ll have all year, and you’ll be constantly asking yourself questions throughout the entire film.
“10 Cloverfield Lane” is a much-anticipated follow up to J.J. Abrams’ 2008 monster movie, “Cloverfield.” The first film was met with mixed reception, with the main complaint being made against the directorial choice to film from a first person perspective. The director of “10 Cloverfield Lane,” Dan Trachtenberg, decided to move away from this strange camera work for a more typical approach.
The script for “10 Cloverfield Lane” was originally adapted from a script for a film called “The Cellar,” and was then re-purposed to be a successor to “Cloverfield.” After learning this information, the structure of the film begins to make a lot more sense. “10 Cloverfield Lane” feels like a completely separate entity from “Cloverfield” with just a bit of extra padding as a half-hearted attempt to tie it into the first film’s mythos. As a movie it does a lot right, but the inclusion of it into the world of “Cloverfield” seems quite unnecessary.
From a technical perspective, the movie shines. The camera work is masterful, and the film creates a sense of tangible tension that doesn’t cease until the very end. There were a lot of very interesting shots chosen that did an excellent job of making the viewer feel like they were part of what was happening on screen.
Along with this, the small cast of actors in the film do an excellent job of heightening the tension of the scenario they’re all thrown into. John Goodman is absolutely chilling in his role, and after this film I’m convinced the man can do anything. Mary Elizabeth Winstead performs wonderfully and has everyone in the theater rooting for her throughout the whole experience.
Towards the end of the film is where we get the first glimpses of how “10 Cloverfield Lane” relates to “Cloverfield” and without spoiling any details, all that can be said is that it’s strange. Unfortunately it’s not strange in the interesting “I wouldn’t have thought that” kind of way, but rather in the “What in God’s name did I just watch?” kind of way.
All in all, “10 Cloverfield Lane” is a good film, but the forced inclusion into the world of “Cloverfield” is enough to sully the experience. This movie would have done much better as a stand alone film, sticking to that original screenplay, rather than this strange adaption. In terms of execution and film-making technique it was good, it just leaves a bit of an unfortunate taste in your mouth after leaving the theater.