Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Non-Spoiler Review: '10 Cloverfield Lane' is a Different Kind of Sequel


We were all gobsmacked when we learned just a few weeks ago that a super-secret sequel to Cloverfield was on its way, but the biggest shocker is that Dan Trachtenberg's 10 Cloverfield Lane isn't really a sequel at all. Sure, it seems like this could exist in the same universe as the J.J. Abrams-produced found-footage kaiju flick, but the reality is that this is a different type of movie with very different storytelling sensibilities and, above all, very different characters. If you were hoping for T.J. Miller to return as a goofball camera guy, you're going to be disappointed.

Without giving anything away (since the joy in this film is the mystery), I can say that John Goodman's Howard Stambler is one messed-up dude, and peeling back his layers of instability in the claustrophobic bunker setting makes for a disturbing, yet satisfying, moviegoing experience. Mary Elizabeth Winstead carries the rest of the film as the skeptical protagonist, Michelle, while John Gallagher Jr. helps balances out some of the omnipresent tension as the affable Emmett. That's pretty much it for the main cast in this slow-burn thriller, which spends much of its 103-minute running time confined to just a few small rooms.

10 Cloverfield Lane takes a bizarre left turn toward the end, and it's that narrative shift that might turn off some viewers. Personally, I loved where the story wound up, giving me the impression that we're seeing an anthology series unfold and we're just now realizing it. Is the primary threat in this movie related in any way to the monster that ravaged New York in the original Cloverfield? Is this series like The Twilight Zone in that it's made up of stories that have nothing to do with each other? There's plenty to ponder as we await the inevitable follow-up but, at this rate, the third film will leave us with yet more questions than answers. Plus, given the drastic differences between Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane, that movie can pretty much be whatever it wants to be. I'm hoping for animated cop drama starring anthropomorphic seahorses.

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