All Clover Again
In 2008 Matt Reeves directed a relatively low budget monster movie called Cloverfield. It was like Godzilla and The Blair Witch Project had a baby which sounds weird but it quickly became a cult classic thanks to this unique blend of genres. I suppose it helped that 2008 was before found footage was as played out as auto-tuning pop songs for audio ‘style’.
Cloverfield was a well packaged film, giving you only rare glimpses of the monster only to reveal it’s true nature at the end of the film. This is how the best horror films tends to work. The thing is though; we have seen the monster now so the mystery is gone. How then do you make a sequel without making it Pacific Clover Rim-field?
Well that’s simple. You get different people to write the film, you change the director, remove that shaky camera nonsense, you don’t set it in a city, keep exactly none of the original actors, get rid of the original monster and having the new title as the only reference to the original.
10 Cloverfield Lane is not in fact a sequel; it’s a spiritual successor. It’s important to set expectations here because it is very different to the original Cloverfield. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a psychological thriller more than a horror, monster or disaster film but it’s also important to go in knowing as little as possible so this will be 100% spoiler free.
The set up is simple. Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is running from her problems and in the process is involved in a car accident. She wakes to find she has been apparently kidnapped by Howard (John Goodman) but it’s not that simple because something has apparently happened to the outside world. Russian invasion? An atomic bomb? Chemical weapons? Aliens? Who knows, perhaps the apes have finally risen or One Direction fans are running riot. Terrifying.
So Michelle is holed up in a bunker along with Howard and, to her surprise, a local called Emmett (John Gallagher Jr). The film follows Michelle trying to make sense of the situation.
The majority of the film is set in the confines of the bunker so it is reliant on the script to take most of the strain. Writers Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken have done a fantastic job in this respect. They have managed to find a delicate balance between developing the characters and to keep you guessing what the hell is going on.
Of course any good script is also dependent on its delivery and all three of the actors excel in this regards but it’s Goodman who stands above all. This is easily one o the best performances of his career. He effortlessly flirts between a begrudging host, a strict ex-military serviceman, an under-appreciated good samaritan, threatening patriarch and oddball, end of the world conspiracy theorist.
I think the film should have ended with the words “Oh come on!” and that’s about the only complaint I can go into without spoiling what is otherwise a finely crafted thriller.
Whilst the film holds very little in common with the first Cloverfield it does capture a similar feeling of mystery and intrigue. It’s definitely worth a watch but try not to read too much into it before you see it.
The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:
+ John Goodman’s performance
+ Keeps you guessing
– Ending is too drawn out
– Err… Other stuff