10 cloverfield lane

Bunker men­tal­ity

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - News - Sam Ashurst

Our ver­dict on the shrouded- in­mys­tery fol­low- up to Matt Reeves’ 2008 mon­ster thriller.

re­leased OUT NOW!

12A | 105 min­utes

Di­rec­tor Dan Tracht­en­berg

Cast John Good­man, Mary El­iz­a­beth

Win­stead, John Gal­lagher Jr

“You’ve got some fight in you,” creepy Howard ( John Good­man) says to Mary El­iz­a­beth Win­stead’s plucky Michelle, in­ad­ver­tently mak­ing the un­der­state­ment of the year. “I can re­spect that.” Howard’s de­scrib­ing Michelle’s re­ac­tion to her cur­rent predica­ment, but he could be out­lin­ing 10 Cloverfield Lane’s pro­duc­tion his­tory. It’s very much the lit­tle film that could.

Con­ceived as a mi­cro- bud­get pot­boiler, it uses ( for the most part) a sin­gle set and a ( very) low cast count. The open­ing acts save as much cash as pos­si­ble, be­fore the film­mak­ers drop a stack of third- act sur­prises that are much more im­pres­sive than they would’ve been if they’d stuck to the orig­i­nal plan. It’s a trick sev­eral in­die films have suc­cess­fully pulled off, but which hasn’t gen­er­ally been utilised for larger block­busters. As a re­sult, 10 Cloverfield Lane feels like the big­gest bud­get low- bud­get film ever made – and a ma­jor rea­son for that pro­duc­tion value is the ti­tle.

For those who don’t know the back­story: Lane orig­i­nally didn’t have any­thing to do with Matt Reeves/ Drew Goddard/ JJ Abrams’s found- footage mon­ster movie mas­ter­piece at all. Af­ter a script ti­tled The Cel­lar was picked up by Paramount, it found its way into Abrams’s inbox, and the pro­ducer agreed to slap Cloverfield on the cover, call­ing it a “blood rel­a­tive” to Reeves’s movie. With Abrams at­tached, ap­ply­ing the same stealth mar­ket­ing Cloverfield clev­erly utilised in 2008, and al­low­ing the ad- cut­ters to play up the Cloverfield an­gle, you’d be for­given for think­ing that this is a di­rect se­quel.

But such a de­scrip­tion would be a tiny bit de­cep­tive. If Cloverfield was Godzilla on the streets, 10 Cloverfield Lane is more like The Mist in a bunker. Like Frank Darabont’s film, it uses an ex­treme sit­u­a­tion to cre­ate claus­tro­pho­bic, para­noid ten­sion, with hu­mans the real mon­sters you have to look out for. Where Cloverfield put lightly sketched char­ac­ters into ex­treme peril, shov­ing them from one ac­tion set­piece to an­other like they were be­ing guided around a theme park, Dan Tracht­en­berg’s cam­era is far more fo­cused on his cast’s faces; their in­ner demons.

It makes for a mes­meris­ing watch. The per­for­mances are uni­formly ex­cel­lent, with Mary El­iz­a­beth Win­stead a stand- out. The story fol­lows her jour­ney from fi­ancé- ditch­ing run­away to bunker- based pris­oner ( af­ter Howard “res­cues” her, keep­ing her cap­tive for her own good, and ex­plain­ing that a chem­i­cal at­tack has ren­dered the air out­side deadly), to, well, spoil­ers.

This re­ally is the best we’ve seen from Win­stead, mak­ing a Rey- level re­source­ful hero­ine em­pa­thetic and be­liev­able. Props also to John Good­man for adding lay­ers to a po­ten­tially pan­tomime sur­vival

Feels like the big­gest low- bud­get film ever made

ob­ses­sive, with his high­light mo­ment in­volv­ing one of the tens­est boardgames since Mo­nop­oly round the Milibands’, Christ­mas 2010.

It’s a bril­liantly writ­ten scene, typ­i­cal of the script in gen­eral, which con­tains plenty of twists and some of the most solid in­ter­nal char­ac­ter logic we’ve seen for a long time. Well, un­til we get to the third act, and a cou­ple of videogame- style nar­ra­tive short cuts that feel too much like cheats to be truly sat­is­fy­ing.

Speak­ing of that end­ing, the film’s fi­nal rev­e­la­tions will surely prove di­vi­sive. This is more like an episode of the ’ 90s re­boot of The

Outer Lim­its than a true fol­low- up to Cloverfield. In fact, re­move the early Slusho ref­er­ence that places it in JJ’s uni­verse ( it’s be­fore the cred­its, ea­gle- eyed Easter Egg hun­ters) and you’d be hard­pressed to find any links to that film at all. If this is the start of a se­ries of “Cloverfield Presents”style flicks in which dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters are re­act­ing to very dif­fer­ent events dur­ing a spe­cific time pe­riod, then we’ll buy it as a con­cept. But if this re­ally is the only Cloverfield se­quel we’re go­ing to get then it feels like fans of the orig­i­nal are be­ing short- changed.

Still, the film’s fine per­for­mances and com­par­a­tively com­plex script mean it shouldn’t be dis­missed, and if putting

Cloverfield on the poster means more peo­ple sit down to watch it, then more power to the film­mak­ers. Let’s hope au­di­ences aren’t too dis­ap­pointed with what they find; it would be a shame if sub­verted ex­pec­ta­tions hurt a film that de­serves re­spect.

That’s the trou­ble with putting an erotic litho­graph on the ceil­ing.

Elsie couldn’t even bear to face the pic­ture on the wall.

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