‘10 Cloverfield Lane’ expresses drama in its characters in the least alien way possible.
In the current age of reboots, remakes and successors, an original storyline is somewhat of a rare gem. Even if the hero’s journey might be flawed, the audience is driven down an emotional path to a cathartic resolution.
And what makes me both thoroughly enjoy and respect a psychological thriller such as this month’s 10 Cloverfield Lane is how it finds a way to mesh the elements, both the good and the bad, for a successful turnout. In other words, this film uses the loosely-attached namedrop of a previously popular alien flick, strictly to draw attention to a completely new story. And it’s somewhat refreshing.
10 Cloverfield Lane, pitched as a spiritual successor to 2008’s Cloverfield, introduces us to Michelle, a Louisiana woman who is mid-escape from her crumbling engagement. A car accident along the way results in her new residence in an underground bunker, run by a fragile conspiracist named Howard. He claims to have saved her life, as well as the life of fellow survivor Emmett. Despite the comfortable haven that Howard has built from the ground up (literally), both Michelle and Emmett gradually see how Howard’s paranoia drives him to do unethical things.
I know what you are thinking: Where are the aliens? Unfortunately, I cannot disclose much of the story’s spiraling second half, but believe me when I say that the trek towards the film’s final moments is more than satisfying. Director Dan Trachtenberg sets his audience up for 103 minutes of pure adrenaline and constant questioning, even though we are simply watching three characters being confined to a small space.
The film, however, did have the supporting foundation of more than just a predecessor. While Michelle is strongly embodied by actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead, it is the acting abilities of critically-acclaimed John Goodman as Howard that brings this thriller to new dramatic heights. With sci-fi guru J.J. Abrams and his production company, Bad Robot, at the helm, 10 Cloverfield Lane had every element of cinematic success.
“This thriller really took me by surprise,” said Jenna Stuiso, a Nutley-native and long-time suspense fanatic. “It was more than just your average stereotypical alien flick. Because of this, I believe J.J. Abrams has done it again.”
With this mindset, it’s a safe bet that 10 Cloverfield Lane could have stood on its own two feet. There was really no need to incorporate it into that depthless found-footage era from several years back. Nonetheless, if it brings in an audience, then so be it. This successor is more structurally-appealing than its precursor, and it deserves to be seen. Hollywood, take some notes. There’s still some hope in simplicity.
10 Cloverfield Lane is now playing in theaters everywhere! Some venues include AMC Clifton Commons 16, AMC Loews Wayne 14, and even AMC Essex Green 9 in West Orange. For a list of more theaters and show-times, visit fandango.com today!