With intriguing trailers and very little marketing ‘hype’, 10 Cloverfield Lane first caught my interest with a simple TV trailer (which given I don’t watch much TV, is pretty good going that I even managed to discover this film). The trailer looked interesting, a woman, in an underground bunker with two men who are telling her the world has gone to pot, there’s nothing left, and most importantly, not to even attempt leaving. Is there something more sinister afoot? Has the world ended?
We find Michelle, mid-panic, mid-leaving her boyfriend blended with a jarring title sequence (reminiscent of Haneke’s Funny Games) she’s suddenly involved in a terrible car accident, leaving her unconscious. When she wakes up, she’s chained to a pipe in an underground bunker, confronted with eerily gentle and considerate Howard, he informs her that there has been a chemical or nuclear attack, and the outside world is uninhabitable. Along with them, is Emmett, who reveals that he forcefully entered the underground bunker when the attack hit. 10 Cloverfield plays with audience perception, John Goodman wonderfully portrays a character who simultaneously instils fear whilst also garnering sympathy, he’s pitiful and sly. The premise of the film, is the world ending or is Howard insane, is ingrained in Goodman’s performance. And it creates for some frighteningly tense scenes in the film (considering it got passed by the BBFC as a 12A – astonishing really given the content). It’s gripping and compelling.
The whole film works on the postulation of pulling the audience into security with pop music montages and then ripping them back out again with tense events. Emmett, Howard and Michelle all start to get along. Howard opens up about his daughter whom is presumed dead or absent, we see a weaker father character who seems to have familial compassion, he speaks fondly of his daughter’s interests, he hints at a breakdown of his family unit (it’s intimated that his eccentricities perhaps played a big part in this). However, Michelle discovers sinister clues that form a very different picture of a secretive and manipulative man. The implied violence and physical threat throughout the film is always underlying and unnerving making it impossible to distinguish what is true or false, deliberately. Feeding beautifully into the low-key marketing campaign, 10 Cloverfield Lane keeps all its cards to its chest right until the last minute, and even then leaves plenty of loose ends that could potentially be tied up on a second viewing (which I will be doing once the DVD is out!)
10 Cloverfield Lane keeps you guessing, it’s gripping and hugely interesting, fascinating to watch and to process. It does lose some of the eeriness in the final scenes, (which I won’t spoil) but does provide a real treat for the more reality based sci-fi fans (think Monsters) but this doesn’t damage the enjoyment of the film, which is probably one of the best films I’ve seen at the cinema in the past twelve months. It’s a cracking film, that provides scares, the very occasional laugh and challenges audiences to think on their feet. It’s wonderfully filmed, the home setting of the underground bunker is claustrophobic but familiar and warm, and brilliant character creation and portrayal make 10 Cloverfield Lane very watchable, enjoyable and deserving of it’s acclamations.