Visuals / Camera
Pacing / Editing
Entertainment Value / X-Factor
Mood / Atmosphere
All things considered, I would rate this movie a solid A-.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m more of the slasher-flick type of girl. I’ve actually gotten scared by suspense movies in the past as well. What I haven’t gotten into, however, is monster movies. I like your typical classics like Frankenstein, Swamp Thing, The Mummy, Nosferatu, et cetera, et cetera… But modern day monsters leave something to be desired. I never got into King Kong or Godzilla. I did attempt to watch The Host in 2007 with my then-boyfriend, but I was more impressed with the fact that it was a foreign film than the fact that it was a monster movie. So when Cloverfield came out a few years ago, I wasn’t exactly in a rush to see it. They had, at least in my opinion, buried themselves with two strikes: “found footage” and a “monster” premise. No thank you.
I was in the theater watching Joy (I THINK) when I saw the first preview for 10 Cloverfield Lane. You all have probably seen the same preview. There’s an upbeat song playing and there are three people that are eating dinner together, putting together puzzles, watching movies. And then suddenly, the girl smashes a bottle against one of the men’s head and attempts to escape from what appears to be a bunker while he’s yelling at her, begging her to not open the door. I was intrigued. It seemed suspenseful enough but the name, 10 Cloverfield Lane immediately shut me off because I knew it had to have been a sequel or a prequel of Cloverfield and I wasn’t in the mood for one of those. I have tons of original movie ideas and not one of them piggy-backs off of already released movies.
I saw more previews, though, and I grew more eager to actually watch the movie to gauge how my reaction would be to it as a person who doesn’t typically like monster movies. I counted down the days that I had to wait until it was released and decided to catch the very first showing of it the day after the initial release (a.k.a., the Early Bird special!)
The movie follows a young woman, Michelle, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who is in a car accident and rescued by a man, a survivalist, Howard, played by John Goodman, and taken 40 feet underground in his bunker. He claims that the air is poisonous and that everybody on the surface is dead. It also appears that he saved the life of another man, named Emmett, played by John Gallagher, Jr. It is very obvious that Michelle does not believe Howard, so she begins trying several tactics that would allow her to escape.
***This is the point in the article where I would advise against reading ahead unless you don’t care about reading spoilers from the movie.***
After a failed attempt where she looks out at a disheveled woman with burnt skin, who is begging her to open the door while choking (seemingly from the air), Michelle goes back into the bunker with Howard and Emmett and begins establishing rapport with them. After resetting a generator, Michelle discovers a help message scratched on the inside of a bunker window, and an earring, which a girl can be seen wearing in a picture that Howard showed Michelle, claiming that the girl was his daughter. Emmett, having known Howard for years, says that the girl in the picture is not Howard’s daughter, but a friend of his sister’s who went missing a few years ago. Fearing for their lives, Emmett and Michelle devise another escape plan, which involves Michelle making a hazmat suit out of a shower curtain that Howard had replaced. When Howard discovers what they are doing, he shoots Emmett while Michelle watches and then disposes of his body in a barrel of acid. Michelle confronts Howard afterwards, and fights him off in what can honestly be called a heartstopping, “edge-of-your-seat” showdown. She finally makes it outside and after seeing some birds fly overhead, decides to remove her mask. When she does, she is welcomed by the sound of bugs and birds, a sign of life. When she attempts to enter the car the woman left at the house, she sets off the alarm and hides in a barn to avoid a very odd looking aircraft. She finds the keys and turns off the alarm. When she goes outside, she is chased by a monster, and quickly locks herself in Howards truck, coming face to face (or face to throat, however monsters work) with the monster. She creates a makeshift Molotov cocktail, and blows up the monster, being released from it’s grip. As she drives down the road, she hears a broadcast saying that they need help from medics or persons with tactical training in Houston. After some brief hesitation, she turns the car down the road towards Houston. Lightning in the sky reveals more ships in the distance, and the film ends.
The movie left a few unanswered questions for me, specifically:
1.) What exactly did happen to the girl in the photo?
2.) Why was Howard so against Michelle and Emmett touching each other?
3.) Why did Howard rescue Michelle in the first place?
4.) Did Michelle not see the remaining ships in the sky when she drove to Houston?
All things considered, I would rate this movie a solid A-. It seemed to be a commentary about how humans can sometimes be scarier than “actual monsters”. For someone that has never seen the original Cloverfield before, I actually enjoyed this film, although certainly it was more because of the suspense in the movie than the actual climax itself.