Sunday, April 10, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane - Review

Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) blacks out from a serious car crash in the middle of Louisiana, only to wake up locked away in an underground room. She was "saved" by doomsday prepper Howard (John Goodman), who keeps her and fellow injured person Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) in his lavishly thought out underground bunker under lock and key due to an unexplained "attack" on America. The two try to enjoy the hospitality and luxurious entertainment post-armageddon but the unchecked psychological issues of their host keeps them fearing for their lives. 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is technically the next step of J.J. Abrams' so-called "Cloververse", a Twilight Zone-like franchise that really doesn't need to exist. Not only does this have no connecting thread to the 2008 found footage horror film save for the title, it also isn't really all that good. This disappointing effort by first-time director Dan Trachtenberg is overall fine thanks to its play-like structure and the fine performances of the central three actors, with Goodman easily taking the cake thanks to his visual acting tics and slow somber tone that masks the real horror of the picture. Unfortunately, the problem starts when the establishing conflict is fairly quickly resolved, causing the players to relax and take it easy in this psychological thriller. The makers seem to then realize they need a second act so they slapdash another dissension into the mix to make everybody against one another again. The average viewer can not only sense this bumbling storytelling but they can see it when Howard's distaste of Emmett's cocky demeanor gets turned off then back on like a light switch. Once we reach the final act, we are treated to a real head slapper that deflates the entire experience and drastically transforms its genre for the worst. As much as I enjoyed the lingering tension, the brief encounters of violent behavior, and the sheer coolness of people watching a cannibal horror movie on VHS after armageddon started, I can't completely forgive the film's gear-shifting approach to its plot or its unsatisfactory undertaking. Worthy for a glance but not able to remain in your senses as the cinematic year continues to unfold.


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