Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane

I need to start out by apologizing. I saw this film 2 weeks ago in theaters and have been putting off my review of it until now. I’m not making a promise, but from now on I am going to do my best to post reviews ASAP after seeing a film in theaters, especially if it’s one as good as this one was, so that you make can attempt to see it while it’s still in theaters if you so desire.

This was Dan Trachtenberg’s (or, as I will be referring to him from here on out, Tractor-Burger Burger-Tractor) first film… like, ever. The only directing experience he has had were 2 short films that I’ve never heard of, and 1 episode of BlackBoxTV, which I have also never heard of. And let me say, that I have been racking my brain for a while trying to think of someone whose first film was as good as this one. Sure, Tractor-Burger Burger-Tractor (you didn’t think I was serious, did you?) had J.J. Abrams helping him quite a bit by funneling large sums of money in from his new money factory, but this film made Tractor-Burger Burger-Tractor look like a real rising star. So now, let’s jump into the review:

 

Story: 9.5/10

As a writer myself, this film was a HUGE treat to watch. The characters are riveting, the plot is constantly building and releasing tension without ever letting that tension plateau, it doesn’t need jump scares or scary lookin CGI monsters to keep you on the edge of your seat, and it’s just amazingly well thought out and done. “Bottleneck Movies” also tend to get bonus points from me, because I think they are excellent settings for thrillers, which are my favorite films. Not much else to say here, folks.

 

Acting: 9.5/10

John Goodman, ladies and gentlemen. This man is often seen as the funny fat character actor, but this is one of his films that reminds us he is more than that. His character plays such a huge role in the rising tension of this plot, that he has, once again, proven that he is a high caliber actor, and not just the funny guy with that trademark voice. His character will go down as one of the best horror/thriller movie characters this year without a doubt.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead (best known for her role as the villain in the classic super hero movie, Sky High) plays the protagonist in this film, and she is definitely good; but, in this two character show, she falls second to John Goodman.

The other guy (John Gallagher Jr., best known for his role as Gary in the highly praised TV original movie, The Flamingo Rising) is just kinda there. He’s not bad, but his character is really just necessary for the plot.

 

Visuals: 8/10

The cinematography is pretty good in this film. It creates claustrophobia by having very cramped scenes but using wide shots to really show how cramped everything really is. The set design is excellent, it almost feels like it truly was shot in an underground shelter out in the middle of nowhere. Everything in the visuals department works to create realism and tension, and it works very well.

[WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD] That is… except for the last 10 minutes of the movie. In the last ten minutes, we are finally brought above ground and greeted by sub-par CGI aliens and spaceships. I have to admit, the last 10 minutes (which I will go in depth in the X-Factor section) nearly lost me, but I have decided to look past that and focus on the bulk of the film, and all the good it represents. That does not mean the last 10 minutes are not affecting my scores. The 7.8 score here is strictly because of the bad CGI, which I’m sure was due to low budget. [END SPOILERS]

 

Music: 7.5/10

Bear McCreary (best known for his work on Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie) created the score for this film. It’s pretty decent, I guess. Concerning the scores for thriller and horror movies alike, I look for two things: does it create tension well without being super loud in order to assist jump scares, and do I remember it after I’ve seen the movie. This score did the first of these things fairly well, but the music was not something I remembered coming out of this movie. After listening to the score on its own, I found it to be… I don’t know, kinda generic? There’s not much special about it if I’m being honest, but I do think it worked well within the context of the film.

 

WARNING: THE ENTIRETY OF THIS NEXT SECTION WILL CONTAIN MAJOR SPOILERS. IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO READ ANY, THEN I HIGHLY ADVISE THAT YOU TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER OR MOBILE DEVICE AND GO OUTSIDE AND ENJOY WHAT I HOPE IS A LOVELY DAY. THANK YOU.

X-Factor: 5/10, The Title

Let me start off, again, by apologizing. I’m sorry that this review’s X-Factor does not contain a joke or any goats (thank God).

I know that the film directed by J.J. Abrams, that was released in 2008 that went by the name of Cloverfield, is not highly favored among critics and some audiences, but I for one, surprisingly liked it. I think the trailers and pre-release marketing strategies took a lot of inspiration from The Blair Witch Project, but I think that movie is dog shit, and I think it added a lot to the magic of Cloverfield for me.

When I saw the trailer for this film, and then saw the title at the trailer’s conclusion, I was beyond excited. It looked like a well produced, well written, well acted, and just overall superior sequel to the 2008 film, Cloverfield.

But that’s the thing. It’s NOT a sequel. This is a stand-alone movie that has absolutely nothing to do with the 2008 film, Cloverfield. I can’t even say “the original” when trying to describe the movie that came out in 2008, because the only two things that movies have in common are that they share a word in their titles, and that J.J. Abrams was involved on some level. This was no doubt, a marketing ploy to get people like me, who enjoyed the 2008 film called Cloverfield, to go and see this film. And hey, it worked, so I guess I shouldn’t be that mad about it.

But I can only imagine how much more I would have loved this film if it didn’t have the word “cloverfield” in its name. I would have never associated it with giant monster aliens, so my mind would have probably literally exploded when the main character reaches the surface to find out that John Goodman’s character was right all along. Instead, I was expecting him to be right, and I was actually very disappointed that the monster alien thing that is waiting for us above the shelter was not the same one that appeared in the 2008 film.

Attaching the “cloverfield” name to this film was a big mistake. This was a great movie with the title it was given, but it would have been legendary in my books if I had no reason to suspect what was really happening above ground. It took away from the thrill, and I nearly lost interest in the last ten minutes because they wanted you to be surprised and say, “Hey, that John Goodman guy, he really was an insane creep, but it’s really cool that he was actually right all along.” But I didn’t say that, because I knew he was right the whole time. At this point, I’m kinda just repeating myself, so I guess I’m going to call it quits, especially since this film was really good.

End Spoilers.

 

Overall: 8/10

10 Cloverfield Lane is an excellent thriller that I would recommend to any fan of the genre. The thing that I had the most issue with (see the X-Factor section) isn’t really anything that happens on screen, so it’s really a very good movie. I just wish some things done off-screen were different so that they might have enhanced my own personal viewing of the film, because I’m a selfish asshole.

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