For Reel

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
March 20, 2016, 8:30 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Dan Trachtenberg
4 Stars
10 Cloverfield LaneThe needless title of 10 Cloverfield Lane plays like a spoiler in itself. With so much of the film asking whether or not an “attack” has taken place (and if so, by who?), the audience’s awareness of the franchise helps answer that question, even if the narrative is so tightly constructed that it does maintain a semblance of doubt. It is a film that relies on the performance of John Goodman as a melancholic, potentially dangerous man who has constructed a fallout shelter where most of the action takes place. He’s unreliable, sure, but his vague warnings are all the audience, or the two characters who cohabit the environment (Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr.), have to go by. Writers Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, and Damien Chazelle nicely pace the reveals so that every time the viewer settles in, the rug is pulled out from underneath them, and Goodman’s ability to alternate between threatening and somewhat wholesome (or at least pathetic) meets the script’s demands. The final act is consistent with the trend of these J.J. Abrams productions in which the ingenious marketing strategy pays off in a way that is consistent with expectations, but ultimately not quite as thrilling or interesting as had been expected. But Goodman, as well as the understated Winstead—playing a nicely capable “victim” who is just resourceful enough to not seem superhuman—are terrific.

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