After being involved in a horrific car accident, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up in a mysterious bunker owned by a man who claims that the world outside is not safe and he has rescued her from something terrible.
Produced by J.J Abrams, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a spiritual successor to 2008's Cloverfield and stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim Vs The World) as Michelle, a woman who wakes up in a strange bunker built for surviving the apocalypse. The owner of the bunker is Howard played unbelievably well by John Goodman (Inside Llewyn Davis) who without a doubt gives the best performance of 2016 so far. Howard is a bit of a strange character, he claims to have saved Michelle's life but the way he acts towards her is mostly abusive and controlling. We're constantly begging the question; Is Howard an aggressor or a savior?
Winstead is great in the lead, she's likable and you instantly want to root for her, and I would make more of her performance, if it wasn't for John Goodman. Goodman absolutely steals the show. Constantly shifting between friendly Uncle and abusive captor. The way Goodman transforms from a monster to a friend in an instant was terrifying. It is important to mention just how good Winstead is in this film though, it's not only her performance, but she has a great character who goes through great development, she starts off as physically rather weak (portrayed by a broken leg) and leaves the film as a much stronger character, she is always resourceful but develops a lot more strength in her character.
It's important to know that 10 Cloverfield Lane is not a direct sequel to Cloverfield, but more of a "blood relative". Think of it as an anthology type series similar to The Twilight Zone. The film is a Hitchcockian style thriller, meticulously directed by first time director Dan Trachtenberg and I was blown away by the film. Everything from the introduction to Michelle, from the decoration of the bunker to everything Howard says is expertly crafted and nothing is without reason.
After the set up is complete, we get to spend some time learning about Michelle, Howard and the bunker's third occupant; Emmet (John Gallagher Jr.). It's in these scenes where horrifying truths are revealed and twists occur and I was hooked on 10 Cloverfield Lane. For the first two acts I was on the edge of my seat, unable to look away because of the fantastic performances and excellent direction, but it's in film's conclusion, where I became rather letdown.
Thematically, 10 Cloverfield Lane is all about domestic abuse, and I won't delve into spoilers because that would completely ruin J.J Abrams' mystery-box style of storytelling. But the film is all about abuse, and thematically, the conclusion sticks with that theme, but it's the events which occur within this finale which both surprised me and disappointed me. You'll understand what I mean if you've seen the film.
The film arrives at a satisfying conclusion to the narrative but then proceeds to continue for about 10 more minutes. Whilst it does maintain the same themes, tonally it drastically shifts and it's as if the filmmakers needed the film to be bigger, even though the story didn't require it. It's this final scene that drags the film down and makes the preceding 90 minutes feel somewhat less important, despite being miles more interesting.
I hope that the film's ending is one I can learn to love upon more viewings because I won't be as surprised. But for a first time watch, it left a bad taste in my mouth and I felt that the story could have continued in a more tonally consistent direction.
There isn't much that can be said about 10 Cloverfield Lane without talking major spoilers. I highly recommend checking the film out, it is without a doubt one of the year's best so far. Despite understanding and appreciating what the filmmakers did with the ending, it didn't fully work for me and felt like it belonged in a different movie. Ultimately the mystery is far more intriguing than the answer. I'm giving 10 Cloverfield Lane an 8.9/10.
What did you think of 10 Cloverfield Lane? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @JamesPorter97