Owing more to a Hitchcock thriller then the 2008, J.J. Abrams-produced monster movie, Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a satisfying and well-made thriller. From the compelling opening pre-credits sequence to the film’s exciting denouement, director Daniel Trachtenberg demonstrates, like Hitchcock, his ability to depict and enhance a narrative merely with visual power. Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Michelle, a woman on the run from a potentially troubled future when a shocking and mysterious car accident lands her in survivalist Howard’s subterranean compound. Is she fortunate enough to be a survivor of the accident or is she a prisoner in Howard’s apocalyptic fantasy? The screenplay keeps us guessing, cleverly alternating the answer as revelation upon revelation brings us closer to the ultimate truth. The film’s claustrophobic feel owes just as much to the milieu as to the acting. The former facilitates an intimate, theatrical staging whereas the latter is award-worthy.
I think we’re alone now. There doesn’t seem to be anyone around.
Winstead is always worth watching, conveying a depth of thought and perception here that belies her addictive beauty, but John Goodman as Howard delivers a performance that is so kinetic, so astonishingly powerful, that it excites at the same moments it terrifies. It is simply a bravura display of talent that is rarely seen in any type of film in any genre. Mr. Goodman becomes mythic — elevating paranoid psychosis to Shakespearen heights. Macbeth’s Thane can’t hold a candle to Goodman’s Howard. Also worthy of note is John Gallagher, Jr. who plays Emmett, another resident of Goodman’s compound. The sensitivity of Gallagher’s portrayal perfectly balances the oppositional forces of Winstead and Goodman providing a dramatic fulcrum for the audience to balance upon.
Also worthy of mention is composer Bear McCreary’s score. Having cut his musical teeth on assignments such as the Battlestar Galactica reboot and, more recently, on AMCs wildly popular television series, The Walking Dead, Bear McCreary’s score for 10 Cloverfield Lane clearly puts him in the ranks of classic composers like Bernard Herrmann and Jerry Goldsmith — not merely for the music composed, but for his instincts in knowing when a particular scene should be scored and when it shouldn’t. That’s rare in today’s day and age of wall-to-wall Media Ventures scoring techniques, and a welcome change of pace. There is a cinematic mind at work in McCreary’s technique and a future in big budget blockbusters is certain if his work on 10 Cloverfield Lane is any indication.
“Don’t open that door! You’re going to get all of us killed!”
There are very few films that can compel an individual to leave the confines of their home and travel out to spend money on a movie — 10 Cloverfield Lane is one of them.
— review by David Mele, a.k.a. Dave The Rave