Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane


This review will be short not because I don’t have a lot to say about it, but viewers would be advised to know as little about it beforehand, as 10 Cloverfield Lane is full of quirks and surprises, although I will give a hint: the title doesn’t contain the word “Cloverfield” for nothing.

That film, a found-footage thing about an alien invasion of monsters, was more interesting in its delivery–shot entirely by video, much of it cell phones–than it being a good movie. 10 Cloverfield Lane doesn’t have that gimmick, and is a much better movie, the kind that will probably be around when I’m thinking of my favorite films of the year.

The premise is simple: Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a young woman who has left her boyfriend after a fight. She’s driving across Louisiana in the middle of the night when someone runs her off the road. She awakens shackled to a wall in a cinder-block basement. Is this another Saw film? No, her abductor/rescuer is John Goodman, who saved her from the wreck and is now protecting her. From what? “An attack.”

There is another member of the group, who are in a particularly well-turned out bomb shelter under Goodman’s farmhouse. He’s John Gallagher Jr. (who I read is a star of Broadway musicals), a hick who believes Goodman and helped him build the bunker. But Winstead, naturally, is suspicious, mainly because of Goodman’s great performance. He’s rational one minute, then loony. When he mentions the Russians, and then talks about Martians, you know he’s not all there, but do you dare go outside? What if he’s right?

Most of the film is a three-character drama of paranoia and trust issues. Goodman keeps mentioning a daughter, whom he presumes is dead (he thinks everyone is dead) and is concerned enough about his dinner table that he insists on coasters.Winstead, who is our eyes and ears of the film, is also great as she has to negotiate Goodman’s mania.

I won’t discuss the ending here, as that would be sacrilege. It leaves itself open for another, and I’m up for it. I will say that the film is not so much a sequel to Cloverfield as just another take on that film. There could be hundreds of films like it, and those who say it’s a new kind of franchise are right.


About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

11 responses »

  1. Awesome. Can’t wait to see this. Thanks for keeping it short, and not revealing too much.
    I love Cloverfield, and think it’s not at all a bad film and rises well above its ‘gimmick’.

  2. The ending was terrible.
    Why even include the word Cloverfield?
    What was a fantastic, taut, suspenseful psychological drama taking place in one location turns into total crap with no hint of why it’s called Cloverfield. Cloverfield was a much better film unless you take the ending out of this one.
    Goodman was fantastic.

  3. I understand…but I loved Cloverfield, a lot, and it felt completely removed from that universe. It was a fantastic psychological drama, don’t get me wrong, and Goodman was fantastic, but makes no sense to me to connect the two. And I felt it fell completely apart when she *********spoiler alert************** gets out.

  4. There are a few direct connections to Cloverfield within the film (and even more in the ARG, including Goodman’s character referencing the attack on NY in 2008).

  5. This feels like Unbreakable to me, a small Unbreakable. A really well-done long setup to a short payoff that doesn’t really work to a movie that does a lot better job setting up what would be an awesome second movie than it is a stand-alone movie, a second movie that likely won’t happen.

  6. But to say any of the connections in *this* movie work to pay homage to the first Cloverfield don’t make any sense to me. If anything, it’s just a distant second or third cousin in the same universe. At least Marvel gives is post-credit sequences that make us cheer for the callouts to the other films.

  7. But I’m ok with it being a distant cousin. It doesn’t have to be a true sequel (although I’d be fine either way).

    I’d definitely love to see Winstead return in another film as this character.

  8. Well, the third Cloverfield film (from Julius Onah, making his studio filmmaking debut) was supposed to open last February. Since then it’s held three different release dates and now comes word that Paramount might be looking to sell it to a streaming service. Too bad.

    I read Oren Uziel’s screenplay a year or so back and beyond an excellent premise (scientists on the International Space Station seemingly cause Earth to be destroyed) it wasn’t very good.

    I’ll be curious to see whether it maintains the Cloverfield branding if it ends up elsewhere.

  9. THR says that Cloverfield 3 is a mess and that producer JJ Abrams’ attempts to salvage the film in post-production were “too little too late”. Given the dire situation over at Paramount, I don’t blame them for cutting their loses and moving on.

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