Random Movie Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane

General:

Said to be a “blood relative” of the original Cloverfield (which was and still is one of my favorite movies … I was hard into the viral promotion, searching the internet for clues… I’m surprised I made it to work and school half the time!), 10 Cloverfield Lane might not at first feel anything like the original movie, but I can see how they were able to say that and get away with it (since it’s possible the connection was an afterthought).

Plot:

This is a horror-thriller-suspense film, so I’m separating it from the general and I’m going to leave it pretty vague. Though technically I knew most of the plot going in, and was still scared pantsless … I’m very, very affected by scary things… it doesn’t take much.

Essentially you have a woman. She is running away from a troubled relationship. The boyfriend doesn’t see the problems as insurmountable, but she does, so she hops in a car and drives.

A few hours later, at night, someone sideswipes her.

She comes to chained to a wall in a fallout shelter.

Eventually she learns that something terrible has happened on the outside. The air is contaminated. Probably she, Howard, the man who built the shelter, and Emmet, a man of about her age who helped Howard build the shelter when he was younger and fought his way in when the attack happened, are the only people left alive.

The majority of the movie is concerned with her mostly suspicious and terrified interactions with Howard, who is obviously not fantastically socialized and has more than minor anger issues.

This was … really something that struck home with me. There was one point where Emmet attempted to lighten the tension in the bunker by making casual, humorous conversation at the dinner table, and Howard absolutely does not approve. He’s a big, bearded man… this took me straight back to more than a few dinners with my dad.

I love the man, but he does have a temper, and before he started taking blood pressure meds – which would be when my brother and I were teenagers, the best time for a parent’s blood pressure – it was pretty sensitive. Dinners were … interesting sometimes.

So, wow. That scene just burned with stress and fear and anger and worry and suspicion…

11-cloverfield-lane.w529.h352
I know that feeling girl… well, maybe not that exact feeling, but close!

Eventually, she and Emmet decide to GTFO, and begin to plan their escape. And I’ll leave it there.

Actors/Characters:

The main character here is Michelle, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. I THOUGHT the last time I saw her was Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, but it turns out she was in A Good Day to Die Hard! I don’t remember her in that at all! …and she was Mary Todd in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter?! I’ve seen these movies!

Anyhow. Point, Darcil. She was excellent. She was scared when she needed to be scared, and when she decided to buckle down and kick ass… she didn’t just lose that fear. I appreciated that. The camera work also had a lot of close up on her eyes and she did fear extremely well. Her eyes looked freaked out like mad.

Howard, our… secondary main character and sometime antagonist is played by John Goodman. Masterfully. Like I said above, that barely – and sometimes not at all – contained anger radiated from him even when he was just sitting and watching TV. He was scary as shit.

The third and final real character in the movie is Emmet played by John Gallagher Jr. I didn’t recognize him at all, until I checked his IMDB, and then I noticed he was Tyler from the “20 Hours in America: Part 1” episode of West Wing! And I immediately recognized him. This might be unbelievable… that one kid from one episode of a show from almost 10 years ago or something? I’ve seen every season of West Wing 5 times at least, and certain episodes (Zoe and the 25th, the end of Season 1/beginning of Season 2, War of the Roses, that whole Re-election, MS stuff…) even more than that. Yes, I totally recognize John Gallagher Jr, now.

His acting was great, too. Not quite on par with the other two, in my opinion, but he did his job of being the wedge between the two of them. Connected to Howard, but closer to Michelle. That closeness rubbing Howard the wrong way, and his character is written and expressed to show that. Which I appreciate.

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Nothing like terrible B movies to cement friendship.

Visuals:

Compared to some super extreme action film or something, this might not stand out, but the fact that there is such dynamic space created in a small area, is striking. The contrast between the “common room” and the character of the man who created it (there’s a china cabinet!) is wonderful.

They also do this interesting thing where it – at least it seemed to me – looked like they were tracking time (and maybe stress) by how ruined her nail polish got. Unless I misinterpreted that.

The little bit of CGI in the film is perfectly acceptable.

Epilepsy:

Nothing to speak of. Except a horror movie trailer for some Thai film… can’t remember what it’s called. Something about Bring me Home or Call Me Home or I Want to Come Home. Can’t remember, but it freaked me hard. You have epilepsy, maybe don’t watch that.But I guess you’d have to figure out what the heck it is before you watched it!!

Interesting to Note:

Highlight for possible spoiler:

She gives Will Smith a run for his money. I wanted her to shout: WELCOME TO EARTH!

All In All:

This movie is great. A wonderful, refreshing break from last week. I suggest watching it, no question.

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Thanks JJ Abrams!
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