Friday, March 11, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane

This review originally appeared on

10 Cloverfield Lane arrived almost out of the blue, with a trailer dropping before anyone even knew the movie existed. Since it was produced by J.J. Abrams and the title includes the word "Cloverfield," the immediate assumption was that it's a sequel to the 2008 monster movie Cloverfield...

And this I where I will do you all a favor and not say any more about that. I will say, if you liked Cloverfield, you should see 10 Cloverfield Lane. And if you never saw Cloverfield, you don't really need to in order to enjoy this.

The majority of the movie's fun comes from its surprises; from never really knowing where the characters stand, or where it's going to end up. So all I'll give you is the bare bones plot: Mary Elizabeth Winstead is Michele, a young woman who finds herself in an underground bunker after a car accident. John Goodman is Howard, a man who explains he saved her life and brought here there. John Gallagher, Jr. is Emmet, a young man with a broken arm who is also living in the bunker. Howard tells both of them they can't leave because of what's happened to the world above ground — basically that there is no more world above ground. Is Howard crazy? Or right?

Goodman is genius casting. He's a huge and menacing presence, but, because he's John Goodman, he can also come off as lovable, caring, and a little pathetic. Winstead, who I last remember seeing in the remake of The Thing, is great; how come she's not in more movies? Gallagher, who got his start on Broadway, is the movie's welcome comic relief. (And see if you can locate Bradley Cooper's cameo.)

Regardless of the film's quality — and indeed, I did like it — I think what I appreciated even more was seeing a movie that was able to build up a lot of anticipation without the year's long — or more! — hype that so many other movies seem to get. There was no time to get tired of hearing about 10 Cloverfield Lane before I saw it, and that's, ironically, one of the most memorable things about it.

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