I don’t use slogans like “On the edge of your seat.” I just find that rather contrived. I came into this movie having an idea of what I was about to see. A movie that mostly dealt with our characters in an underground bunker and the tensions that arose during their stay. What I got not only far exceeded my expectations but makes for a benchmark movie of 2016. That’s something I also don’t say often, but what I can tell you is that 10 Cloverfield Lane is one of the most suspenseful movies I’ve seen in recent memory. It’s written well, acted excellently, and has this flair to detail and mystery that make it a continually compelling journey. I wasn’t “On the edge of my seat” but I never let my guard down the entire movie.
The initial premise is that we start the story with Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character, Michelle. She’s trying to run away from something, gets in a horrible accident, and is saved by John Goodman’s character, Howard. They reside in a cellar underground made by Howard because there’s some “attack” on the ground level. We also meet Emmett played by John Gallagher, Jr. As the movie goes on, some details become more blurred and our characters find out that there’s more to the situation they are in than meets the eye, So the majority of the movie takes place in the bunker, Michelle doesn’t necessarily want to be there, and like me, she keeps her guard up the entire movie as well.
John Goodman did an exemplary performance, giving us a man who has been through hard times, possibly mentally abused, definitely off-kilter. Howard uses his words and actions with no discrepancy and is masterfully played by Goodman. Mary Elizabeth Winstead did a great job as a resourceful protagonist, we don’t get to learn too much about her, but she has a heart and ideas and they come together well. Emmett is a fun addition to the cast; not offering comic relief, rather offering some relief to rising tension, which are needed sometimes because this movie doesn’t let up.
Through excellent music cues or great editing we get this built tension in this closed space. The opening to this movie has some of the best editing in a thriller I have ever seen. Suspense is about shell shocking your viewer, giving them a moment to breath and take in what’s happening around them, and diving them back into the action. There were around ten distinct scenes that follow this rule and first time director, Dan Trachtenberg, does a spectacular job as throwing us off on some leads, and keeping the threads going. Most things shown on the camera have a purpose, the shots in the movie look fantastic. Another shout-out must be made to the composer, Bear McCreary, for making a memorable and eerie soundtrack that helps build the suspense so much. You’ll have the main theme lingering in your mind for at least a day or two.
So let’s briefly talk about what’s above the ground-no spoilers. While I said most of the movie takes place underground we do find out what actually happened and we get a mostly satisfying ending. I would actually say that though we could definitely see another sequel in this universe that I wouldn’t want to with these characters. I’m perfectly content with the movie that I saw and I don’t think a sequel would work as well, partly because Howard is a bigger antagonist than what’s on the surface level of the earth. But damn did this movie create and contribute to some fantastic lore that fans will discuss and debate far into the future of Cloverfield. My best recommendation before watching this movie is to not expect Cloverfield. Don’t expect anything likethe first movie and know that you’re going into something different, unique, and better. This movie is so much better and more complex than the first Cloverfield.
I do have one or two issues with the movie, primarily that some dialogue isn’t that great with one particular character. I just don’t think that in a current world that this person would say things like they did. Also there’s a big transition at one point that I personally loved, however some people may feel thrown off because of the name. All that aside, this is the best movie I have seen since Sicario, which was my favorite/second favorite movie of 2015. 10 Cloverfield Lane sets a benchmark for all types of movies to come out this year. I immediately told my friend I saw the pre-screening with, that I won’t see something this good in a long time. Hopefully I’m proven wrong, but this movie was an absolute treat and I’ll keep raving about it for quite some time. I give 10 Cloverfield Lane my highest recommendation.