Starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr.
Written and directed by Dan Trachtenberg
A single mailbox torn off its post towards the end of 10 Cloverfield Lane is the only obvious nod to Cloverfield the game changing 2008 horror apocalypse film about evading monsters in NYC.
Thematically they are strongly united by the theme that monsters and everywhere, but the “sequel” is distinctively different.
10 is a spiritual sequel to the original, but it’s better described as a viral extension. It is also wildly entertaining and beautifully cinematic study in paranoia. Its pacing is excruciatingly effective and it has faith in its own simplicity.
The action could take place at the exact same time as the original just in a different place. The mind boggles – could this lead to future films following the alien invasion as it spreads.
What separates them is that the first chapters combine to create a human scale drama, then ramps up to a psychological thriller about three people in a bomb shelter. A few hints telegraph a coming threat and then BOOM it’s a different film. That to me is realism. That’s life.
It begins as a woman prepares to leave her boyfriend. She’s driving along a lonely country road in the southern US. He calls her repeatedly begging her to come back but she cuts him off.
The voice on the phone belongs to Bradley Cooper, in an unseen cameo.
But then, in a violent and sudden moment her car is hit, tumbles and falls into a ravine. She wakes in a cinder block bunker, hooked up to an IV and chained to the wall.
A man comes in whose manner is either caring and generous or grimly threatening. We don’t know because she doesn’t know. He tells her he’s saved her from the toxic air following an attack outside.
She can’t tell if there has been an attack outside but believes she heard a car going over the bunker’s ceiling. She soon realises a young man, a farm hand, is with them. He buys the captor’s story of danger outside but she notices things that tell her to get out fast.
They begin to make their escape plan.
But before long the intimate drama morphs into something else altogether.
Her strength and power and strategic thinking are at the heart of the story. She galvanises herself into warrior form over time. Winstead is a minimalist actor, who delivers a clear message without doing much. This smart cookie could be a fighter and we could too – that’s the message.
Goodman’s so darn good, a seasoned actor who creates a memorable character just by getting the job done. His powers of understatement prevent us from deciding what he is.
The editing is stunning at times. The opening titles are a sensual roller coaster ride of terror and fun. Certain cuts had the audience breaking out into loud nervous laughter.
The film’s clever touches and smart cinematic language and its shape shifting nature make it a joy to watch and the real people at the heart of it, something to care about.