Review: 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (2016) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Friday, 8 April 2016

Review: 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (2016)

During one fateful night, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) suffers a car accident and finds herself waking up in an underground bunker with one of her legs chained to a wall. Apparently she has been rescued from the crash and brought over by a middle-aged man named Howard (John Goodman). He later reveals to her that it's not safe outside due to a mysterious chemical attack.

REVIEW: For years, there have been talks about a CLOVERFIELD sequel ever since the acclaimed found-footage monster thriller became a surprise hit in 2008. Fast forward to 2016, the new CLOVERFIELD movie has finally arrived after a surprise trailer came out of nowhere in January this year. But instead of a traditional sequel, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is described by producer J.J. Abrams himself as a "blood relative" or "spiritual successor" to the first CLOVERFIELD movie. Even the setup in 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is noticeably smaller in scale while the cast is mainly reduced to three principal characters played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr.

Fortunately, first-time feature director Dan Trachtenberg along with the help of cinematographer Jeff Cutter and music composer Bear McCreary, successfully creates a decent amount of tension and genuine suspense within its limited setting. And unlike CLOVERFIELD, Trachtenberg eschews the found-footage element in favour of a more classical approach where the shots are carefully framed to give this movie an utmost sense of claustrophobia. Finally, the movie goes all out with a thrilling final stretch that I wouldn't want to spoil for you here. All I could say the ending is simply breathtaking.

Also thanks to the screenplay written by Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken and Damien Chazelle, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is the kind of movie that keeps the viewers guessing what would happen next. This is especially evident throughout the movie surrounding Howard's shady motivation. Is he really trustworthy? Is he actually telling the truth about the chemical attack that caused the air unsafe to human? Is he simply a delusional loner who made things up or is he someone else entirely? All these questions and so on has made the viewing experience all the more fun and intriguing to watch for.

Of course, none of this guess-the-mystery storyline would have worked if it's not for John Goodman. One minute he can be kind and gentle, and the other minute he can be deranged and sociopathic. No doubt Goodman's chameleon-like acting performance is the main anchor that mostly glued the movie together. Then there's Mary Elizabeth Winstead, whose strong performance as the movie's lead female protagonist is equally praiseworthy.

However, in what could have been an airtight little thriller, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE suffers from a laboured pace that stuck somewhere in between. Even though the movie doesn't share the same sheer urgency that CLOVERFIELD did successfully, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE remains a worthy addition to the franchise.

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is tense but spotty psychological thriller.

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