10 Cloverfield Lane
Cert: 12A / 103 mins / Dir. Dan Trachtenberg / Trailer
Whereas 2008's Cloverfield left me with a swath of questions about the alien attack on New York, its loosely-tethered sequel raised only one: how the hell is this a 12A certificate? That's not necessarily to call the judgement of the BBFC into question, but if you take your twelve-year-old into this movie, they probably won't sleep for a week. That said, much of the threat (from the humans, at least) is heavily implied rather than shown, and maybe we grown-ups*1 have a greater well of world-weariness and outright cynical nihilism to draw upon when imagining the horrors which occurred before we got to a crime-scene. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Set roughly at the time of its predecessor, 10 Cloverfield Lane follows young Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) as she's involved in a serious road-collision and awakes later, locked in a nuclear survival bunker by grizzled conspiracy-theorist Howard (John Goodman), and also populated by the naive, if well-meaning, Emmet (John Gallagher Jr). Struggling to separate the sparse facts from the revisionist history of her host/captor, Michelle is torn between wanting to escape and not wanting to know what's outside...
Smoothly shifting gears between psychological thriller, survival horror and apocalyptic sci-fi, this is a movie which feels slow-paced, even though every line of the script moves the story irreversibly forward. With a principle cast of just three performers, director Dan Trachtenberg focuses everything on the tension in the bunker, with threats both verbalised and left unsaid. The overall lack of information from Michelle's point of view begins to exasperate the audience, but that's entirely intentional as Howard has plenty of theories as to what's going on but little evidence, and barely expounds on that. Adding to this is the knowledge that we all sit watching this film smugly knowing about the New York invasion, then slowly remembering that Cloverfield wasn't exactly exposition-happy even in its final moments, so we actually know nothing of what's going on above-ground, either.
Probably more of a performance-piece than a narrative one, 10 Cloverfield Lane still delights in teasing out plot-details which the audience doesn't feel comfortable relying on. While the tension (and the terror) comes in waves, the restless uneasiness is a constant. Go and see this in the cinema for maximum effect, but get a babysitter because the kids really need to stay at home.
Personally, I'd have enjoyed the film even more if it had ended fifteen seconds earlier, but that's why an antagonistic bastard like me doesn't edit movies for a living...
Cloverfield (obviously), Red State, plus the psychological elements of Saw and The Walking Dead.
For ratcheting up the tension, absolutely.
It might not necessarily achieve what you'd like it to though, so bring as little baggage as possible.
The cast are on magnificent form, and Dan Trachtenberg makes directing them look effortless (although I'm sure it wasn't).
Unless it's worked somewhere into the final act, no.
Level 1: The film is exec-produced by JJ 'The Force Awakens' Abrams.
That's close enough for me.
*1 I use that term in its loosest sense when referring to myself.
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.