Friday, March 11, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane Review

About two months ago now, I saw that 10 Cloverfield Lane was trending on facebook. This was in mid-January shortly after I had done my in depth look at all of 2016. A Cloverfield sequel was NOT on my radar. In fact, it was on no one's radar. So when I saw it was trending, I naturally assumed that they had announced that a Cloverfield sequel was in the works and would come our way in 2017 or 2018. I was down for this. I'm in the party that loved Cloverfield and I'll get to that in a second. But no. But no. They weren't announcing that a Cloverfield sequel was in the works. They were announcing that a Cloverfield was complete and was coming in two months. And here's the trailer. That absolutely floored me! They made a freaking movie of this caliber without anyone spilling the beans. J.J. Abrams loves his secrets and this was a huge one. Back in the day this sort of thing happened all the time. You never really knew what movies were coming out until you went to the theaters and watched the trailers. But that was before social media. We don't live in a day and age of secrets anymore. The second a director, studio, or producer thinks about making a movie, it's already all over the headlines. But 10 Cloverfield was made and finished without anyone knowing about it. That's incredible!

Cloverfield. This is a fairly polarizing movie. It was a horror/thriller of sorts made back in 2008 when the idea of a found footage movie was still a novel idea. I'm not a fan of all found footage movies. In a lot of the recent found footage movies, the format was completely unnecessary and even held the movie back. Earth to Echo is a great example of that. Could've been a fun movie. The found footage made it kinda dumb. But Cloverfield did it good. It was an alien invasion movie done found footage style that gave you the feel that if someone were actually recording during an alien invasion, that's exactly how it would've gone down. There were so many brilliant, unique elements to it that made it really fascinating. But I get it. It's not for everyone. Many didn't like the alien invasion element or constant explosions. Many got super dizzy and/or annoyed with the constant, shaky handheld camera style. And that's fine. So if you disliked the movie for these or other reasons, this is a movie that you can just forget about, right? WRONG! This is actually nothing like Cloverfield. It's not a sequel. It's not a reboot. It's not a spin-off. It's not a prequel. It's not a side-quel. I don't even know if it's in the same universe. So what it is? J.J. Abrams called it a blood relative. Yeah, that describes it pretty well.

There's a lot of similar elements to Cloverfield, hence the name, but this is a completely different thing. None of the actors or characters return. We're in a different part of the country. There's no references to the events or people or date in the first one at all. In fact, this is not even a found footage movie. That will give many of you a sigh of relief. And while I do like plenty of found footage movies, I will share your sentiments. In this case, no found footage was a very good thing. Now I've been spending a lot of time telling saying what this movie is not because I want you to go in with the right mindset. But now let me tell you what this movie is. It's a thriller. And it's a dang suspenseful thriller that is successfully terrifying in many ways. While Cloverfield had a ton of characters and they were all frantically running around in Manhattan, 10 Cloverfield Lane had three characters and they were all confined to one small area for nearly the whole movie. We have this girl who leaves her boyfriend and is driving down the road at night when suddenly her car gets hit and she rolls over several times. After blacking out, she wakes up confined in what looks like a dungeon while handcuffed to a pole. "I just got kidnapped," she thinks. "I didn't kidnap you," John Goodman responds. "I rescued you."

I don't want to say too much about this plot because the less you know, the better it is. Needless to say, this girl is not convinced at all that John Goodman rescued her, but he's adamant that he saved her life. As an observer to all this, I honestly had no idea who to trust or what was going to happen. I think I flip-flopped in my head about 10 to 20 times. Maybe more. I kept playing out in my head what I thought was going to happen, but there were so many twists and turns in this movie that every 10 minutes or so I changed my mind. The second I thought I actually knew what was going on, the movie took another turn. This happened literally throughout the whole movie. And dang this was suspenseful. I was downright terrifying for nearly the whole movie. The fact that this is a relative to Cloverfield made this even worse because I knew based on that movie that I couldn't put anything past this movie. They could literally do just about anything and I wouldn't be surprised. That's what happened in Cloverfield. I don't want to spoil that movie for those of you who haven't seen it, but there's a lot of crazy things that happen in that movie. I didn't think for one second that they couldn't do whatever the heck they wanted and it made me scared.

All three actors in this movie were fantastic. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was our lead female character and she was so great in this. People these days are always on the lookout for a strong female character in a movie and by goodness did they get one with this girl. Her co-prisoner/rescuee (we don't know which is the case and I'm not going to tell you) is played by John Gallagher Jr. and he is also great as her partner in crime as they try to figure out what in the heck is going on. But despite these two great performances, it's John Goodman that completely steals the show. He has proven time and time again that he is one of the best actors in the business right now and has been for many, many years. His character is both very mysterious and very creepy and boy does he pull that off. Yes, he has the charm to him that at times will make you side with him and believe that everything he is trying to tell these people is true. But yet he also has the creep factor that just terrifies you, especially when he flips out at them. I mean, John Goodman is no small dude. If you make him mad, he is terrifying and inescapable. If he is chasing you, you better pray that he makes a mistake.

Did you know that John Goodman has never been nominated for an Oscar? Not even once? We all jumped on the Leo bandwagon in demanding he get an Oscar and we rode it until he finally won this past year. Can we make John Goodman our next target? He deserves a gold trophy as well. Thrillers rarely get nominated for anything, especially not when they come out in March, so he won't get one for this role, but I hope he does soon. There's a lot of other things I want to talk about with this movie, but I'm not going to touch on them out of respect for the experience. Just know that I was on the edge of my seat the entire time in this very suspenseful movie. But there is an ending to this movie that I'm going to vaguely dance around because when it comes to thrillers, one of the most important elements is to have a good ending and in this case I am completely torn. On one hand, I think it's genius and amazing how things turn out. On the other hand, they could've taken a page or two from the original Cloverfield. On a third hand, there was another thing that I wish they would've done that could've been amazing that they didn't do. What does all this mean? It means that you should watch the movie then come talk to me and we can sort things out.

All in all I really enjoyed 10 Cloverfield Lane. If you were a fan of the first, it probably means that you enjoy suspenseful movies and thus I have reason to believe that you will enjoy this one as well. Just don't go in expecting a Cloverfield 2 because that's not what this movie is. If you normally love thrillers, but you didn't like Cloverfield because of the found footage style or you thought the alien element of it was a little silly, then you might actually enjoy 10 Cloverfield Lane. It's a very different movie that spends most of it's time in a claustrophobic bomb shelter type of place and is not found footage. If you aren't in the mood to be terrified from beginning to end, this might not be your movie because this is one of the most suspenseful thrillers that I have seen recently and is much more terrifying than the original Cloverfield. I'm undecided on the ending as of now, but this is a non-stop thriller that is suspenseful from beginning to end and much of the credit there goes to John Goodman for being such a terrifying and creepy character that is very mysterious at the same time. I love Cloverfield and I also love 10 Cloverfield Lane. But for very different reasons. My grade for 10 Cloverfield Lane is a 9/10.

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