10 Cloverfield Lane is not exactly a sequel to the amazingly interesting and affecting monster-attack found footage film Cloverfield. However it does have connections to it which are revealed right at the end. For the greater part of the film, it hits you like a claustrophobic holed-up flick wherein there is a man who is literally holding two people hostage citing reasons of a global fallout. He believes that the two souls in his shelter are safe and it’s all because of his ability to predict what was headed there way. However the two people in his shelter do not exactly share his side of the story. Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) was running away from her boyfriend when she met with an accident. The next time she opens her eyes she finds herself in the shelter with her feet tied.
Howard (John Goodman) is the man who owns the shelter and he lets her know about a global attack that happened when she was knocked out. She also meets Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) a man who does believe in the global attack theory of Howard but doesn’t really trust him with his own life. The trio is forced to stick together and gradually Michelle and Emmett start realizing that Howard might just be crazier than what they think him to be. Why is he holding them there? Will they be able to escape from the shelter? Has there really been an attack and if yes what has happened of the outside world? These are some of the questions that drive the narrative of 10 Cloverfield Lane.
This is a film about three people talking for most of the part and it depended heavily on the performences to make this film interesting. Thankfully the three principal characters are terrific. You cannot take your eyes off these men and woman. John Goodman constantly keeps giving you a feeling that he might not exactly be a good man and you cannot help but at moments think that he might actually be right. This duplicity in his character makes him an engrossing watch. He does bring out the nuances of his character perfectly. Mary Elizabeth Winstead has come a long way from her Final Fantasy and Grindhouse days. She looks breathtaking with very little makeup and feels the part she is acting. Throughout her essay in the Shelter, there isn’t even a momentary loss of feel. My only complaint is with the scenes when she actually comes out of the shelter and goes all bravado. That loss of attribute in realism can be dumped more on the director who should have put a check on it all. John Gallagher Jr. is perfect. I watched Hush a few weeks before and his act is fresh in my memory. Here he turns a completely different leaf and was terrific from the word go.
The film has some wicked sound design. I will not spoil the fun by revealing those here but will instead leave them unmentioned for you to enjoy. The background score is a mix of melancholic and atmospheric tunes that reek of something not being right or good form start to finish. The film is well shot. Gone is the handheld camera / found footage style of its predecessor. Here you have a much more cinematic and artistic look at things. The final action sequence is the only one which felt a tad bit haphazard. Then again, I feel that’s how it was meant to be shot and edited. But the lighting really went dim in that final sequence and I would have liked it more if I was able to see what was happening a little bit better. The editing is slow and shots linger on faces for prolonged periods letting you judge the inner feelings of the characters. It is used to increase tension and does work out well.
Overall, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a better film than its predecessor at every level. This is not an action film and can be sighted as more of tense drama. The performances and the intriguing plot are its high points. On the flip side, the film ended in a somewhat disoriented manner and gave a feeling as though the makers ran out of ideas and just threw in some unnecessary muscle to make a bigger impact. I felt the speed of the narrative was also off in a few places and that could be a stickler for people who enjoy speed. But still this film has enough merit to amuse you throughout its runtime. I give it 4 stars out of 5
RATING : 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)