Release Date: March 11, 2016
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Writer: Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, Damien Chazelle
Cast: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr., Douglas M. Griffin, Suzanne Cryer, Bradley Cooper, Sumalee Montano, Frank Mottek, Jamie Clay, Cindy Hogan, Mat Vairo
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 105 minutes
Production Company: Paramount Pictures, Bad Robot, Spectrum Effects
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Budget: 5,000,000 (estimated)
January 2008 is when the first Cloverfield film hit theaters, and no one knew what to expect from the found footage approach. The ending could’ve been fleshed out more, but it still paid off as a film that I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved the citywide adventure the characters embarked on. The large question going into 10 Cloverfield Lane is whether it’s connected to the past film or not. Of course there will be no spoilers here. You’ll just have to see the film for yourself. It does feel like it’s part of the same universe though. The mystery going in carries itself throughout the entire film, keeping you guessing from scene to scene. The main character has an interesting arc. It’s all well contained and leaves you wanting more in the end. Though that longing for more may be from the ending being three appetizers instead of a full course meal.
Whether the entirety of the film is in one place or multiple places, the marketing is able to pull you in for answers. As each moment passes you become desperately curious for the outcome. The film appears to only take place in one setting, but is surrounded by an unknown world. It’s nice to see a small glimpse of that world with Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) before all she knows is flipped upside down. The plot provides every reason for her to be afraid, and you’re just as anxious as she is, on top of being on her side. She’s someone that runs from her fears, but at the right time decides to make a change. It’s the type of character moment that makes you rise in your seat for more. Howard (John Goodman) is the fire that keeps burning continuously. He’s a firecracker with no fuse, so who knows when he’ll go off. He’s clearly crazy, and the enjoyment of his presence is in not truly knowing if he’s the good crazy or the bad crazy. Every ten minutes another question is raised forcing you to challenge his morality. I couldn’t help but be entertained.
While the initial delivery of dialogue was jaded, shortly thereafter the characters’ personality traits ironed things out. The exposition behind Howard’s actions become fluid, rather than being blatantly explained just so the audience would understand. For a second it may appear you’ve figured out the plot, but what’s been advertised in the TV spots takes place early on, leaving the rest of the film as a guessing game. You don’t know if there are one, two, or three antagonists. The film provides a wide range of answers spread out amongst the largest fork in the road, and it’s a fun journey to figure out which way is the correct path.
The path that’s taken could’ve had some short cuts. While trying to develop the characters for a few moments we’re left just watching them instead of seeing them grow. They’re underground for a short time, but you don’t know exactly how short of a time that actually is. This matters due to one sequence of events that flips the table, but the true impact doesn’t hit as hard with the rough timeline that’s provided. This moment and a few others are brief, but could’ve easily been left on the cutting room floor.
The journey Michelle is on is only fulfilling if it pays off in the end. I don’t feel that it does. I wanted more, and this film is only a teaser of what’s to come. It’s a great way to kick things off, but as an audience member I don’t have the patience. The film has you asking a large number of questions, and provides answers but only in short. There are two worlds in this film, and we only got the better of one. It’s like the best tasting meal is placed in front of me, and I’m only allowed to enjoy half of it. The disappointment could’ve been avoided by lower expectations, but seeing how I stayed away from a majority of the marketing material, I don’t see how that’s possible.