10 Cloverfield Lane – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

10 cloverfield lane10 Cloverfield Lane – 3.5/5 – Surprises; things that bring out the intrigue in anything that seems a bit unusual.  When surprises happen, you want to know what kind of details are there to find.  That is the case when it comes to films that just pop on the radar without anyone noticing.   10 Cloverfield Lane is one of those that just show up and present you with that ‘what is it’ intrigue.  Going into this film; there is a literal sense of not knowing what you’re getting into.  It is an intriguing context that becomes a thrilling experience.  With some decent direction, acting and the ‘mystery’ behind why they are trapped, 10 Cloverfield Lane brings you a suspenseful journey.  Even when the clichés abound, there is enough here to create a surprise that is worth a curious thought.

Premise:  After a car accident, one woman finds herself in the shelter of two others.  With claims that the outside world has ended, Michelle must face the consequences and face the truth of what is the evil threat.

This is a film built upon a few characters.  With a film of this uniqueness, characterization is a key element.  There are three main characters:

John Goodman as Howard

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle

John Gallagher Jr as Emmett

These individuals do a fantastic job in creating distinct characters having to live with a belief that there is something ‘evil’ outside the bunker.  They provide unique but realistic people; one that draw upon the guise of having fragile aspects in their personalities.  There is a rawness that creates a vivid image that parlays the fact of the mysterious that surrounds.  There is an aura of strength found in the interactions of these three people.  Stories are told and past are revealed, but in that honesty there is a sense of anxiety.  The ability to build something happily is littered with lies of what is really evil about their situation.  That surface of relationships helps create a dynamic that becomes a plague on everyone’s psyche.  Howard is a conspiracy theorist, Emmett is a good homely country boy just trying to survive and Michelle is a young lady with no recollection of how everything happened.  Each of them creates a sense of ‘smoke’ and ‘mirrors’, fueling the tension that brings about some unpredictable situation.  This creates an attachment that forces a layer of emotional girth that unhinges the mental stability of everyone involved.  Dialogue is humanistic, interactions are candid but the irony comes in the fact that there is something eerie in each of them.

The direction takes on a conceptual like approach.  The film builds off common tropes while layering psychological and thriller aspects of the mysterious.  The basic through line is built around a set of characters converging on a singular entity (a bunker in Louisiana).  Coming from different parts of the state, the three main characters all end up at this specific location because of an ‘unknown event’ (plot point).  No one knows if it’s an attack from terrorist, allies or even other worldly.  This is an overused trope used to sensationalize the film’s introduction.  Even when the approach is all too common; it is one that forces the narrative to structure around the ideas of characterization.  Without strong acting, any story that applies this format could unfold with many contrived plot threads.  That isn’t the case here because of the characters.  The direction takes the ‘unknown event’ trope as a starting point, allowing the focus to turn towards the characters living within the aftermath.  This is where we come to find Michelle, Emmett and Howard stuck in this bunker for who knows how long.  As we then get past the introduction, the narrative becomes an analytical aspect of the idea of truth versus reality.  The reality forces the three into a factual situation of having to live trusting but dealing with fear.  The fear becomes hidden in a guise of method stylization; as all three characters become familiar but distant throughout the first two acts.  The themes breakdown our personal sense of intuition.  Can you really be safe among strangers or take the risk against your life and escaping?  Even with the linear direction, it allows the characters to move the situation along through dialogue, interactions and the ‘convenient’ plot devices littered throughout as connective tissue.  As this happens, we get a deeper look into the human psyche; one that breathes degrees of tension through subtlety of being trapped physically and mentally.  With that strong focus on characterization, we start to see the effects of the outside break down Howard’s conspiracies.  As much as it is hard for Michelle and Emmett to believe all his ‘stories’, they can’t help but imagine what the real threat can be outside.  Thematically what is true, who is honest, and what really defines evil becomes a blur.  This helps build suspense through the first two acts.  It create an ‘edge of your seat’ feeling for the audience.  There is momentum as each minute builds anxiety, as the ‘unknown’ threat becomes something worth facing for those involved.  Once we get into the final act; the film unfolds a little too familiar with the ‘reveal’ of the threat.  Taking a page to use a basic template for the ‘introduction’; the film’s creators use another abused trope to bring conclusion to the reasoning behind everything.  It can come across as a ‘cop out’ device, but it is something that helps create reasoning for everything.  Even with the ‘somewhat’ glazing of an ending, the tension built throughout helps flush the trivial pursuit; allowing a sense of hope in the thought that the main character(s) will make it to somewhere safe.

The visuals are basic.  With the film putting focus on one single location (Bunker), it sheds worth with a grounded appeal.  It places an ideal aspect into something that seems odd.  This touch of realism in the setting allows the purity of the characterization to unfold.  The score is non-existent.

10 Cloverfield Lane is a film that came out of nowhere, but is that ‘surprised’ that brings some value to the big screen.  If you are a fan of thrillers or anything suspenseful, this is one for you.  Even if the climax isn’t that much of a welcoming thing; the tension helps you live something that is truly terrifying.

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