Bad Robot Studios has released a new Sci-Fi film, 10 Cloverfield Lane, starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher, Jr. Produced by J.J. Abrams, it was directed by first-timer, Dan Trachtenberg.
Some of you may have seen the 2008 release, Cloverfield. Though it is a bit of a tease, 10 Cloverfield Lane has nothing to do with the original film. They are playing on the name. Now there is one similarity, you are not sure in either one for at least half of the film what kind of monster is endangering the cast. Indeed, in Cloverfield, you never get a good look at the big mama-jama, just a sort of silhouette seen from a hand-held camera, as the man filming falls to the ground. In 10 Cloverfield Lane, the audience is teased about the identity of the monster...are there really space aliens terrorizing the Earth, or is Howard (John Goodman) the real monster?
The story is basically this - Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Michelle) is a clothing designer (wanna-be or professional - it's never made clear) living in New Orleans. The movie opens with her trying to call her partner, Ben (voiced by Bradley Cooper), with no success. So she clears out the apartment of her things, leaves the keys to the place, and what is apparently an engagement ring. She eventually accepts a call from Ben, but hangs up on him. She drives out of the city. Long after dark, she is the victim of an auto accident with her car rolling over an embankment.
She wakes up stripped to her tank top and underwear, wounded, and chained to the wall. She is on a mattress on the floor. Her clothes are folded across the room. The big metal door to the concrete cell has a mesh insert suitable for looking at her. She doesn't remember much about the accident, other than she was in one. Someone has tended her cuts and put a knee brace on her wounded leg.
She tears out her IV and uses the stand to pull some of her belongings within reach. She gets her IPhone and is upset to see she has no service. Howard comes in to check on her, tells her she needs to eat.
Eventually, he lets her out where she meets a young man, the only other resident in the bunker. John Gallagher, Jr. (Emmet) has a broken arm. They share dinner together.
Howard tells her there has been a huge attack. He's not sure if it's aliens, the "Russkies", or Al Qaeda. Whatever it is, it is huge, and has decimated the surrounding area. When she doesn't believe him, Emmet tells her he broke his arm trying to get into the bunker. It seems he worked for Howard, helped him build the bunker, and was determined to save himself when the attack came. Privately he tells her Howard has been planning for such an attack for years as he's a real "conspiracy nut."
Howard shows her evidence of the attack, though she still does not believe him. One of his neighbors, a woman, who is injured, comes to the bunker, demanding to be let in, but he refuses to admit her.
The film continues playing hide and seek with the audience. It is tense, as Michelle tries to unravel the truth of her situation. Is she facing some outside threat, or is Howard the true monster of the piece?
She eventually does find out what happened and who the real monsters are. The ending confirms everything for her. I'll say this for her, she adjusts well to her situation...
If you like a tense science fiction movie, this one's for you. It was so atmospheric, I was just glad to get out of the theater into the sunshine...of course that could have been due to the rude older women who walked into the theater close to the climax of the movie, speaking loudly wondering if they had the wrong theater. They did. Being an even ruder older woman, I told them to "Shhhhhhhhh!" They ran never to be seen again...
Don't interrupt my movies.
Until next time.