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Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane – A tense, pressure building and heart pumping thriller


This review is by Tom Nightingale. He won our 10 Cloverfield Lane screening competition and very kindly wrote the following review.

Ever since the trailer emerged from a shroud of secrecy there have been plenty of rumours floating around about 10 Cloverfield Lane. With JJ Abraams saying rather than a direct sequel this would be a “blood relative of Cloverfield” there was a genuine air of anticipation about what we were actually going to see at the advanced screening. Which actually was pretty refreshing in age where you have to actively avoid finding out on social media that ‘he was dead all along’. So with strict warnings of not writing spoilers ringing in my ears it was time to open the mystery box.

Well what I can tell you is that this is not Cloverfield 2, the shaky, frantic, handheld style is gone, insteadDan Trachtenberg (Director) concentrates on successfully delivering a tense, pressure building and heart pumping thriller right from the opening titles.

The story follows Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who after a car accident wakes up to find she is being held captive in an underground bunker by survivalist Howard (John Goodman) who informs her that some kind of attack has happened on the surface and with the outside air contaminated everyone else is gone. Joined in the shelter by Emmett (John Gallagher Jr) who helped build the bunker, Michelle starts to question the motives at play and whether she is being told the truth.

To say anymore would be entering spoiler territory but as you can guess the pressure builds and builds to an increasingly frantic and thoroughly enjoyable finale.

I loved all three of these characters and they are played excellently, Mary Elizabeth Winstead creates a likable and extremely resourceful female heroine reminiscent of Sigourney Weaver in Alien (that is not a spoiler!). John Goodman nails it as a man barely able to control his anger, rescuer and oppressor rolled into one. The interplay between the characters sizzles throughout the film and it’s a cheesy line but it really is edge of your seat stuff.

The film manages to maintain the increasing tension despite in reality being an enclosed isolated narrative. The storytelling is quite economical, with the script being masterful in its simplicity, dropping breadcrumbs of detail and excellently balancing the dual mysteries of what’s going on outside the shelter as well as in, until the somewhat inevitable yet increasingly exciting ending. Some could say it’s formulaic but it’s so well executed I got swept right into it and didn’t notice.

So, now a disclaimer. This is not a direct sequel more a different yet linked story, a piece in a larger jigsaw. Cloverfield fans especially should go in with an open mind, it’s important to stress here that while the film is different it is exceptionally good. The immediate comparison would be with Misery but 10 Cloverfield is more reminiscent of an episode of the Twilight Zone (specifically an 80s one called skelter shelter).

I applaud the film for the way it is linked to the first Cloverfield film and I hope that it represents a change, with film studios more willing to be open to telling a new story within a same film universe rather than a formulaic sequel or remake. The film should really be rewarded for opening up the Cloverfield universe to so many possibilities and telling a story that different and yet still holding the magic and intrigue of the original.



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