The darkness is ubiquitous, mysteries unresolved float in the air, whilst the audience is being kept under the constant unknown – what do we deal with here actually? Aliens or a creep keeping people hostage? Dan Trachtenberg’s movie is a lot of fun, lots of shivers and undoubtedly constitutes the first big revelation of the year for me.
Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) finds herself at the crossroads in her life – she leaves her boyfriend and decides to move out. As she drives on the highway, a terrible accident happens – the next thing she sees is a quadratic seclusion room and her body chained to a heater. Soon, she finds out that her alleged savior – Howard (John Goodman) – may not be exactly who he claims to be in the beginning, but she is not alone – Howard also saved and locked Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.).
Trachtenberg’s film is a full-bodied masterpiece of suspense. Although from the beginning we follow Michelle, observe as she progressively loses her rationality and becomes desperate to leave the shelter at any cost, we are only given scraps of what awaits outside or who she “lives” with. And those scraps are deliberately frightening – it’s the premise that scares. Trachtenberg multiples the mysteries around John Goodman’s harrowing portrayal of Howard, around the suspicious alien invasion and why the shelter was really built. Yet, the director is not limited to the nagging question of whether the aliens are really out there. His interest lies on other aspect too – would you stay locked with Howard, given the circumstances as in the film?
Technically, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a parade of some top-notch acting. It’s been a while since we were given a chance to admire John Goodman again, but it was worth to wait. He seizes the screen all for himself every time he appears, sketching an intriguing portrait of Howard. There are lies around him, there is a suspicion of his dark past, but undoubtedly, he is also a savior for Michelle and Emmett. Winstead sinks teeth deep in the character too, skirmishing with Howard, impatiently waiting for any chance to escape from her doom. It’s a strong heroine, with her own demons chasing her from the past too. Least can be said regarding Gallagher’s Emmett, whose character, although being a key element to the climax, for most of the time becomes the observer of the tension between the aforementioned two.
Finally, one should notice the mildly creepy soundtrack composed by Bear McCreary. It’s subtle, yet amazingly powerful, with the main theme for Michelle being the utmost best in the film’s artistic canvas.
10 Cloverfield Lane is what I wish modern sci-fi would look like. There is a drop of a thriller in it, even a horror film, tension built by ominous, almost oneiric soundtrack and convincingly written plot. Given all these factors, it’s no surprise the film garnered such a marvelous string of reviews from Sundance and keeps the good vibe floating.
UMP Grade: 42/50
(Cinematography: 7.5, Plot: 8.5, Acting: 9, Soundtrack: 8.5, Quaintness: 8.5)