Is the evil within greater than the evil outside? Billed as “a distant blood relative” of 2008’s Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane isn’t what you’re expecting, no matter WHAT you’re expecting. Even though yes, it *is* a Bad Robot picture, this film is it’s own little bombshelter universe.
This is director Dan Trachtenberg’s FIRST FEATURE, and boyhowdy does he deliver. His previous project was the hugely popular short Portal: No Escape, based on the Portal video game series:
Such a small tease of Trachtenberg’s abilities, and a perfect way to announce to the science fiction community that “hey, I’m here, and I want to direct big things.”
It’s fun to see how much Ramona Flowers has grown up, Mary Elizabeth Winstead admirably carries the majority of the film’s chops on her rounded shoulders. It would have been super simple to make this a phoned-in performance, but within 3 minutes of being in the cinderblock room with her, you’re WITH her, you believe her as Michelle.
John Goodman as a villain, man. That’s a thing. Constantly creepy and looming, his presence as Howard makes you second guess every little thing. But even with how he is in this film, I *still* have a life goal of hugging him.
One possible spoilery thing I’ll talk about is John Gallagher Jr.’s character Emmett, who we always see with his arm in a sling and a covered forehead. I loved The Newsroom, and for me, this is what happened to Jim if he had been left out on the Republican election trail. While we see Michelle’s leg get better with the passage of time (no, we never find out how long they’re in this underground bunker built by Howard, but we know it’s a while), Emmett’s arm never gets better. He also never, NEVER shows his bare forehead, which in my mind means something.
What is a good horror/suspense/monster/alien film without the right score? Thankfully, Bear McCreary (Outlander, Battlestar Galactica, The Walking Dead) was brought on board (seemingly from the very early days of the project if this interview with Collider is any indication). Seriously though, this Emmy winning composer was a perfect choice to craft notes enlarging the pulse and warm thrill of confusion required for such a story.
The sound design, imperative for suspense films, was good but jarring, some of the jump scares had such a high-pitched tinny octave to them I have to assume it was on purpose. If you can’t handle realistic LOUD car crashes, coming in late to a reviewing may be in your best interest. The use of a 1950’s song-filled jukebox in a sealed in space made me think often of Desmond and The Hatch, not a bad thing.
And I guess I know what my job is gonna be in the apocalypse, the air system cleaner, as my companions informed me when Michelle climbed into the ductwork to reset the filter.
All in all, a very solid 8 out of 10. I may go see it again this weekend, I’m curious to see how it holds up to a second viewing.