Directed by Dan Trachtenberg
I’m tempted to advise you not to set foot in 10 Cloverfield Lane, Louisiana. Still, I don’t feel good by telling you to stay out of it, either. Well, I’m just a bit confused and undecided, just as the brave heroine of this film was before putting herself together from the initial shock.
The best way of dealing with “10 Cloverfield Lane”, an improbable cocktail made of “Room” and a tiny bit of “District 9”, is actually watching it from the comfort of a theater where you can immerse yourself in a fantastic story/idea created by Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken, and written for the big screen by the same duo with the precious hand of Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”).
The film marks the directorial debut of Dan Trachtenberg, who relies on producers with the caliber of J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves, as well as on an amazing cast comprised of John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr., to drive us into this very peculiar psychological thriller with hints of sci-fi, which efficiently plays with our senses throughout the course of events.
The human species seems to be under a mysterious attack of uncertain nature, and the only man who has everything ready to escape the fatality is Howard (Goodman), an ex-Navy who dwells in an occult bunker, under lock and key, and located in a secluded flat land where it’s hard to find a reason why anybody would want to stop by. The bunker, cozily fixed underneath the surface, was primarily constructed for survival purposes. We learn that a long time before, Howard was predicting a disaster like this. It’s Emmett (Gallagher Jr.) who says so, the man who helped him build the place and also takes shelter there. Unexpectedly, or maybe not, Howard embraces a new tenant whose astuteness and strong personality put in danger his security rules and methods.
After abandoning home due to an ugly argument with her boyfriend, Michelle (Winstead) has a violent car crash that leaves her unconscious for some time. By the time she recovers, she realizes she lies on a mattress placed on the floor of an empty room, and that one of her legs is chained to a wall. At this point, the terror is high and the answers are nil, but the pretty accessible, Howard, slowly introduces himself as the respected and decent man who saved her. Politely, with a sad voice, he informs her that the outside air became unbreathable due to an attack, which could have been chemical or nuclear, and most likely there are no other survivors on Earth apart from them.
Michelle isn’t convinced about the story and even plans an evasion. However, the following sequence of incidents will push her back and forth. Amidst a few legitimate suspicions about her savior and the proof that there’s really something wrong out there, the crafted Michelle, makes of intelligence her best weapon, giving wings to the imagination in order to better deal with the claustrophobic condition she was put in.
Mr. Trachtenberg’s clever moves infuse the proper amounts of tension, often making the viewers questioning what’s right and what’s wrong. Moreover, he was able to take under control both the pace and the mood while the actions and dialogues never felt forced or unreasonable.
Absolutely gripping and much funnier than I could have imagined, “10 Cloverfield Lane” never stops to surprise you, also being a showcase for the flawless actors.
Mr. Goodman, in particular, shows how great he can be, no matter what genre or role.