Cloverfield was one of the movies that started the now well overused found footage subgenre. After it found some success it seemed that any genre film maker that wanted to tell their story cheaply filmed using this style, and it soon become old and cliche'd.
So when I first heard that a "sequel" was in the works, i was initially sceptical. But then, details started to be leaked into the wild. This wasn't going to be a found footage film, in fact, it isnt going to a real sequel. This "pseudo-sequel" shares very little in common with its predecessor, and if you weren't aware of Cloverfield, you would be hard pushed to realise this is not a stand alone film!
10 Cloverfield Lane is the directorial debut of Dan Trachtenberg, and stars John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr among its cast. Its tagline is "Monsters come in many forms", and it proves that horror movies do too. This film isn't full of gore, demonic possessions and spooky goings on, but what it is, is truly horrifying and extracts fear from every aspect of its production.
So, what is the film about? We open up seeing Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), driving along and then crashing her car. When she wakes up she finds she is being held against her will in some kind of bunker by John Goodmans's character, Howard. Howard is a conspiracy theorist, who is claiming to he "guests"(the third member is Emmett played by John Gallagher Jr.) that an extinction level catastrophe has happened to the world.
Its a simple premise that sets up the next 100 minutes of nerve shredding story brilliantly. The script(penned by Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken and Whiplash's Damien Chazelle) is very impressive. Aided by the quality of the script, Mary Elizabeth Winstead turns in a performance of the highest quality. How this lass hasn't hit a much bigger lever of stardom is beyond me. However, as is often the case these days it is Goodman who steals the show, playing his character on a knife edge between sympathetic and unhinged wacko! This could well be a career defining role for the veteran.
One place where the scripts does falter a little is the character of Emmett. Although Gallagher Jr's performance is solid, his character serves as little more than someone for the other two t bounce off. For me, this is a chance missed to add another dimension to the pressure cooker environment inside the bunker.
Talking about the bunker, the scenes inside it really do emit a sense of claustrophobia and you can really feel the tension which does seem to build organically.
The film is not perfect though. The soundtrack for one is often overbearing, with Bear McCreary seemingly favoring volume over all else. Also, the ending doesn't quite match the quality of the rest of the film. It just doesn't seem to match up to what, prior to the final set-piece, was a very intelligent thriller.
But i think we need to look past these few niggles. For a debutant director to orchestrate a films tension in such a manner points to him having a great future. This really is suspenseful filmmaking of the highest quality. IF the final 10 minutes had been done differently, then we could have been looking at the perfect thriller!