10 Cloverfield Lane
Dan Trachtenberg's 10 Cloverfield Lane is a mysterious and suspenseful flick, produced in typical J.J. Abrams "mystery-box" style. John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead's performances outshine the film's overall intentions, creating a film that strives to be different, but occasionally fails in doing so.
Dan Trachtenberg‘s latest mystery-box collaboration with producer J.J. Abrams 10 Cloverfield Lane is a frustrating, yet fascinating film. 10 Cloverfield Lane is strongly acted and almost perfectly executed in a way that builds on the suspense and paranoia until just the right moments, but unfortunately the title of the film and general association with Cloverfield attaches un-needed expectations and assumptions, resulting in a film that almost always has you on the edge of your seat, but also a film that complicates its nature because of its associations.
10 Cloverfield Lane is a film that’s best enjoyed when walking in completely blind. The more you know about the film the less effective it becomes, which is why tackling my review is going to be one hefty task.
I’ll say for starters that I will not spoil anything and that I will try to be as vague as possible. If the film has mildly sparked your interest, then simply close this review and go and see it before you end up reading too much or form too high of expectations.
But if you’re expecting this film to tie in heavily with Cloverfield or perhaps even answer some questions left open with Cloverfield then you might want to readjust your expectations, because 10 Cloverfield Lane doesn’t have much of anything to do with Cloverfield, aside from maybe a few winks and nods.
It functions in the same mystery-box universe that Abrams has helped create with Cloverfield, but 10 Cloverfield Lane is an entirely different monster.
So different that it admittedly left me disappointed because of my pre-assumed expectations. I tried my best to walk in knowing nothing and expecting very little, yet I still left the theater slightly irritated with how the film handled its connections.
Cloverfield is not the main attraction and instead an indicator for a high concept mystery. It’s pretty much telling you that any film with Cloverfield in the title is going to act like an Abrams-produced episode of The Twilight Zone.
That is all.
10 Cloverfield Lane functions very well as a well-made episode of this Abrams-produced series. Director Dan Trachtenberg creates scene after scene of emotional intensity, allowing fine performers like John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead to grab ahold of the screen and deliver some mighty fine work.
Goodman gives one of the most uncomfortable performances of his career, surrounded by mystery and paranoia, while Winstead plays one of the stronger female leads in recent memory.
Both help develop and expand upon the simple plot presented in the film, resulting in a film that really does push you to the edge of your seat as you eagerly wait to see what happens next.
It’s that type of surprise and mystery that has all but disappeared from modern movie making and marketing as of late and watching Trachtenberg and Abrams successfully bring that back is an achievement on its own, even if the film left a somewhat sour taste in my mouth.
I can’t really dive into a detailed explanation of why I didn’t love the film or what didn’t work for me as well as it did for others without spoiling key elements of the plot, so I’m going to refrain.
I can only urge readers to either check this one out as soon as they can, before anyone else spoils the film or before the marketing opens up a little. The experience is half of the enjoyment and once that’s ruined the film comes down to the way Trachtenberg reveals the twists and the choices he used to continue the story.
I enjoyed how the film managed to be surprising in its delivery, yet predictable in a sense. It’s a hard concept to explain, but it’s something that will instantly become obvious once you’ve seen the film.
10 Cloverfield Lane is an event film that represents a rare approach to modern filmmaking. It mostly works, despite its association with Cloverfield. It’s a statement that shows just how powerful expectations can be when watching a movie or deciding on seeing it in the first place. The film frustratingly tries to become something different and break the mold, yet its ties to another film hold it back from becoming something entirely original.