The Film (4/5)
The original Cloverfield film, produced by J.J. Abrams, (Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens) and directed by Matt Reeves (Let Me In) was an American updating of the Kaiju genre shot in the style of the increasingly popular found footage film. As a fan of the former I was excited to see the film, unfortunately, the latter prevented me from reaching it's conclusion due to motion sickness involved in that stylistic quirk that so many filmmakers seem to utilize post-Blair Witch Project.
The trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane showed up in the last half of 2015 with no explanation to what it was. The imagery from the trailer showed a group of people, somewhere underground, trying to survive from an unnamed catastrophe. My initial thought after seeing the trailer was that it was a side-quel to the original film, and probably took place during the Cloverfield Invasion. Once the film was released, and the "mystery box" opened, I would find out that I was very wrong.
The film stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) as Michelle, a young, impulsive woman who as the film begins is packing up her things and leaving the apartment she shares with her boyfriend. She begins driving through the evening, and into the dark of the night in a scene that is reminiscent of Marion Crane's (Janet Leigh) drive in Psycho. Not much is said in these few minutes, as her boyfriend tries to reach out to her, and ask her forgiveness. All of a sudden, however, she finds herself in a devastating car accident.
Michelle wakes up an undetermined amount of time later in a cement room, on a mattress, handcuffed to the wall with an IV running into her arm. A few minutes later she would be joined by Howard (John Goodman, The Big Lebowski) the man who brought her down to the room, in what she is to find out is an underground survival bunker. Howard believes that some sort of attack has occurred above ground, possibly chemical or alien in nature, and brought her to the bunker after the accident to help her recuperate and survive. There is a third person in the group Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) who came to the bunker as the events of the supposed attack started. However, Michelle does not entirely believe Howard's version of events having been unconscious when they happened, and even after doing her best to integrating herself to life in the bunker, she finds evidence that Howard might not be who he says he is.
10 Cloverfield Lane has no relationship to the prior Cloverfield film. It appears that in making this film producer J.J. Abrams has decided to either capitalize on the name of the earlier picture to bring in an audience for this one, or turn Cloverfield into a series of Sci-Fi anthology films with the name being the only common narrative element between the films.
The film is spent primarily in Howard's bunker, and lead by the performances of the main cast who perform extremely well together. The trio have excellent chemistry, and the intensity they manage to create out of the situation is palpable. Special consideration has to be given to John Goodman who manages to give a performance that is both melancholic, and psychotic in almost equal measure. Mary Elizabeth Winstead performs well, as a person trapped in an situation that is out of their depth, and must work their way out of it incrementally. Gallagher acts as a very balanced foil to both characters, almost like a nervous everyman, wanting to please Winstead's character, while feeling an strong debt of gratitude to Goodman's Howard.
The film's first hour is a mix of confusion and suspense, with a few moments of domestic tranquility as the trio finally resign themselves to their respective fates. In these moments the film reminded me of George A. Romero's 1978 Dawn of the Dead, as the outside world is falling apart, they are down in a bunker playing board games. In the Romero film they lived in a glamorous lifestyle in the confines of the Monroeville Mall. The last half hour of the film switches tracks into a heavy mix of slasher horror, and monster driven science fiction. However, the earlier portions of the film certainly setup the conclusion, and the drastic change in tone is handled quite well with both an eye toward the humor of the situation and eye toward creating a mix of action and suspense. The latter of which the film was already loaded with due to the mysterious nature of the situation.
Paramount presents 10 Cloverfield Lane on Blu-ray with a spectacular 1080p AVC encoded transfer. The Blu-ray offers fantastic color reproduction, dark inky blacks, accurate flesh tones, and excellent fine detail.
the audio is presented in a Dolby Atmos track in English. The track is excellent with dialogue, score, and ambient sound coming through nicely. I did not detect any issues with the sound.
Paramount have put together quite a decent slate of extras for their Blu-ray release of 10 Cloverfield Lane. The disc features a commentary track by director Dan Trachtenberg with director J.J. Abrams. We are also treated to an number of behind the scenes featurettes on the film, and trailers. A DVD and digital HD copy are included.
I found myself pleasantly surprised by the chamber horror 10 Cloverfield Lane. The film manages to create an atmosphere of claustrophobic suspense before unleashing some wild horror and sci-fi mayhem on its audience. The Blu-ray looks and sounds excellent and has a decent slate of extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.