10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
Surfacing without prior notice, filmed in absolute secrecy & marketed without giving away anything at all, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a masterpiece of suspenseful filmmaking that retains its air of mystery by always staying one step ahead of its viewers. Unpredictable, claustrophobic & making ingenious use of Hitchcockian elements, this orgy of twists n turns delivers the chills with great effectiveness and is further uplifted by stellar performances from its cast.
The biggest mistake one can make while heading into this feature is to approach it as a full-fledged sequel to Cloverfield. Although it does share strands of DNA with that found-footage monster flick, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a different beast. The filmmakers leave a trail of references that connect the two plus there is similarity in their themes as well but this latest entry serves better as a blood relative than a literal sequel and is far more capable of standing on its own.
The story of 10 Cloverfield Lane follows a young woman named Michelle who, after leaving her fiancé following an argument, is involved in a car accident. Waking up to find herself in an underground bunker, she is approached by a guy named Howard who tells her that an apocalyptic event has left the outside world inhabitable and claims to have saved her life. Also present is Emmett who confirms Howard’s story but Michelle isn’t convinced and attempts to find the truth all by herself.
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg, 10 Cloverfield Lane is crafted with such precision & craftsmanship that it doesn’t seem like the work of a first time filmmaker at all. A stunning debut by every means that instantly catapults Trachtenberg into the league of the most promising talents to look out for, its success is also attributed to Damien Chazelle’s script that is refined to near-perfection and J.J. Abrams’ supervision of the whole production that allowed the new director to spread his wings.
The technical aspects are expertly executed and greatly help in intensifying its ominous ambience. With majority of the plot unfolding in the underground shelter, the claustrophobic element sets up all by itself and is more amplified by the smooth tracking, steady zooms & piercing movements of the camera. Editing makes sure that the plot remains tightly-knitted, ideally paced & highly gripping from the first frame to the last, while Bear McCreary’s background score elevates the tension to a nerve-wracking level.
Coming to the performances, we get acquainted with only three characters in this movie and all of them are given a well-defined arc. The cast comprises of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman & John Gallagher, Jr. and it isn’t just the outstanding singular performances these actors deliver in their given roles but also the terrific chemistry they share with each other that makes us invest in them. Each actor compels the other one to bring their A-game to the table and while Winstead chips in with a strong input, it’s Goodman who turns out to be the show-stealer.
On an overall scale, 10 Cloverfield Lane is far better than what I expected it to be and undoubtedly ranks amongst the best films to surface this year. Confidently directed, cleverly scripted, skilfully photographed, impeccably edited, sensibly paced, stupendously performed & aptly scored, it is a downright intense, extremely captivating, incessantly stimulating, incredibly thrilling & ultimately rewarding edge-of-the-seat experience that will effortlessly manage to keeps its viewers guessing throughout its 103 minutes runtime. In short, whether you like Cloverfield or not, 10 Cloverfield Lane comes strongly recommended.