10 Cloverfield Lane: Three is company

Genre: Thriller

Director: Dan Trachtenberg

Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr.

Run time: 103 minutes

Plot: A woman is trapped in a bunker by a man who claims the earth is uninhabitable

Bottomline: A weak third act lets down the excellent first two

This is the season for not-exactly sequels/prequels. There was The Huntsman Winter’s War which took place before/ after/ around Snow White and the Huntsman last week and now we have 10 Cloverfield Lane, which producer J.J. Abrams calls a spiritual successor to 2008’s Cloverfield.

10 Cloverfield Lane starts with Michelle having an argument with her boyfriend, Ben on the phone. She packs her bag and leaves home. As she is driving, she is distracted by Ben’s phone call and meets with an accident. She wakes up in a cellar with an IV line in her arm, her leg in a brace and handcuffed to the wall.

Oh-oh, you think immediately of Jigsaw and his merry band or fava beans and a chilled Chianti. Michelle’s rescuer turns out to be Howard, a conspiracy theorist who insists there has been an incident rendering the air unbreathable and that he has saved Michelle from certain, horrible death. There is also Emmett, who helped Howard build the bunker and fought his way in. It takes Michelle sometime to believe Howard and as time goes by, the three learn to live together, playing board games and watching telly.

However, there are things that are not quite right, including the fate of Howard’s daughter Megan and as Emmett and Michelle start to dig around, they uncover some pretty horrific facts.

The film grips you from the get go and in his directorial debut Dan Trachtenberg has kept a tight rein on the proceedings. By focussing on three people in an enclosed space, he gives the grand disaster movie imagery a miss, which works well as we are imagining all manner of horrid things.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives the right amount of toughness as Michelle and John Gallagher Jr. as Emmett is good while John Goodman as jolly unstable Howard is excellent. As long as the action is in the bunker, the tension is kept up, it is only in the third act when all is revealed that you realise the personal demons your brain created are infinitely more scary than anything the best technicians can create.

That was why Spielberg only showed the fin with scary music for two-thirds of Jaws — not because he was having trouble with the mechanical shark.

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Printable version | Jul 3, 2022 2:48:50 pm |