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10 Cloverfield Lane

Prior to the release of the original CLOVERFIELD in 2008, the project had been veiled in a shroud of secrecy. Aside from a teaser trailer and a number of hidden websites that were all part of a giant marketing in-game that was directly linked to the film, audiences were left guessing as to what exactly caused Lady Liberty’s head to go bouncing down the streets of New York City.

10-Cloverfield-Lane-Poster_1200_1749_81_s Audiences soon discovered that the movie, directed by Matt Reeves and produced by JJ Abrams, was a found-footage thriller that delivered a unique spin on the Monster genre. Though CLOVERFIELD was hardly the first flick to use the first-person, handheld camera technique to heighten realism and terrify its audience in an unconventional way, it did help usher in an era where this plot ploy became very commonplace in the cinematic world.
CLOVERFIELD was, and still remains, one of my favorite horror films of the past decade. It was refreshing, exhilarating, and left me wanting more. Rumors have swirled for years about the possibility of a sequel, and Abrams had stated on more than one occasion that there were still more stories to tell within the CLOVERFIELD universe. Despite these proclamations, there was never any substantial updates on the progress of any supposed sequel, and it seemed to be a production that was going to remain in perpetual limbo.how-are-10-cloverfield-lane-and-cloverfield-connected-798630
On February 7, 2016, the trailer for 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE dropped online. In a world where everyone knows everything about any entertainment production in the works, it was exhilarating to see a project such as this fly under the radar for so long. The trailer appeared to have very little in common with the original CLOVERFIELD, and it left viewers scratching their heads as to what the connection between the two would be. Much like the original, a viral in-game surrounding the film was soon uncovered, and that in itself began to get fans amped up for the sort-of (?) sequel.
Though 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE exists within the same universe of its 2008 predecessor, the connections between the two are very vague. Whereas the original offered a firsthand look at the carnage that was unleashed upon New York City by a giant monster, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE takes a much more conventional approach to storytelling. After fleeing her apartment and her fiancé for reasons unknown, Megan (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) gets in her car and drives away. While on the road, her car is side-swiped, it plummets down a steep embankment, and she is knocked unconscious. When she awakens, she finds herself on a cot in a small, locked room. Her leg has been placed in a cast, and the cast is chained to the rail of the bed.maxresdefault-2
When her captor first enters the room, Megan begs him not to hurt her. He informs her that she isn’t a prisoner, and that he has saved her life. The man’s name is Howard (John Goodman) and demands that he be treated with the respect he deserves for being her savior. Eventually, Megan is permitted to leave her room, and meets another man named Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) She soon discovers that they are in a fully stocked, underground bunker. According to the two men, during the time that she was unconscious, a large portion of the United States population had been eradicated. While they are unsure if it was due to some sort of attack from a foreign nation or perhaps an alien race, they are certain that there are chemicals being used that kill all of those who come in contact with it. Megan is very skeptical about the revelation, but soon learns firsthand that some of what she has been told is the truth.
The majority of the 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is set within the confines of Howard’s doomsday domicile. Howard and his guests spend their days watching movies, putting together puzzles, and playing board games. Though there is an uncomfortable air of fear and uncertainty in the confined living space, the trio goes about their days in relative peace. It isn’t until Megan makes a terrifying discovery that she is once again seized by the notion that she would be safer above ground than down there with Howard. mary-elizabeth-winstead-john-goodman-10-cloverfield-lane
Director Dan Trachtenberg, in his first feature-length film, has crafted an engaging, and entertaining thriller that delivers an excellent story and pitch-perfect performances. Winstead makes Megan a strong, intelligent, and resolute heroine that refuses to blindly accept the plight that has been laid before her. Unlike many of her cinematic counterparts, she thinks for herself and refuses to succumb to the horror-film clichés that often permeate throughout productions such as these. She isn’t merely a damsel in distress that needs to rely on a handsome stranger to help her achieve her salvation. Instead, she takes matters into her own hands, and refuses to simply accept what she has been laid before her at face value. Conversely, Howard is a hot-headed and demanding host. Part of the fun of CLOVERFIELD LANE is attempting to dissect his motivations, strict rules, and domineering nature. Is he a broken-hearted survivalist who, while lamenting the loss of his daughter, clings to the belief that he should help a young woman in need? Or, is he the monster in this installment of the CLOVERFIELD? This is where Goodman’s performance truly shines. He teeters on the brink of being a socially awkward protector, and a psychotic captor, which causes conflicting emotions within each viewer. He conveys little compassion, yet does everything in his power to keep those in his bunker alive. This constant battle, paired with the claustrophobic setting, helps elevate the CLOVERFIELD franchise into an unexpected and exceptional realm.

A special thanks goes to Regal Cinemas at Destiny USA for allowing me to attend this month’s film.

RUN TIME: 1h 43min
GENRE: Drama, Horror, Mystery
STARRING: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.
DIRECTOR: Dan Trachtenberg
Writers: Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken

Brian Miller