Let’s get one thing out of the way right away about this movie. This is not a direct sequel to Cloverfield, despite the title and plot of the movie. The movie was based on a script with the name The Cellar. While director Dan Trachtenberg was filming the movie, he noticed many similarities to the Cloverfield movie, so with the permission of J.J Abrams they were allowed to title it as is and consider it a blood relative to Cloverfield.
That aside this movie is very much a stand alone film that is not only a Cloverfield sequel, but a much superior film in just about every way. The movie is not hand held footage like Cloverfield and this film takes almost completely in an under ground shelter and not in a big city. This allows the film to have much more time to build its characters and lead up to an impending doom.
The movie stars Mary Elisabeth Winstead as Michelle, a young lady who while in a fight with her fiance, takes off in her car to head to Louisiana. She listens to the radio which is talking about some sort of major event that is taking place. While on the phone with her fiance, she crashes her car. We see a man coming to help her and next thing we know Michelle is waking up in a bunker. She is being held there by Howard (John Goodman) a farmer who has been preparing for an event like this all this life.
Michelle also discovers that her and Howard are joined by Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) another “friend” that Howard has brought down underground with him to shelter from the evil’s going on outside. It becomes clear that Howard is expecting them to be down there for a long time and he has prepared everything you would need to live for an extended period of time.
What makes 10 Cloverfield Lane such a solid story is that each of the characters is build up in a unique way and given the time to let us fully understand their motives and actions. The film is basically 70 minutes inside the bunker with Michelle trying to figure out what Howard’s deal is. Howard clearly defining the rules and making sure everyone knows he is in charge and Emmett caught in between the two of them. Nothing is revealed right away so the movie slowly builds tension until we get to the climax of the movie.
That is were things actually go south.
The final 10 or so minutes of the movie are completely out of place and don’t at all fit in with what has happened before. The idea itself could have been good, but the movie decides to show way to much and basically turn into another film altogether.
Still, when the rest of the movie is such a well paced character drama and the acting is this good, with Goodman stealing the show as he often does, it is easy enough to overlook a minor plot flaw that only takes up 10 minutess of the 90 minute film.
If you are looking for a balls to the walls sci-fi action film than this isn’t the film for you. However if you like to have time to get to know your characters and like a little sci-fi tossed in for good measure than this is the film for you. I believe this will divide the audiences down the middle, but I am happily on the positive side of things even if I thought the ending was a disaster.