10 Cloverfield Lane
dir Dan Trachtenberg
prd JJ Abrams, Lindsey Weber
scr Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, Damien Chazelle
with John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr, Douglas M Griffin, Suzanne Cryer, Bradley Cooper, Sumalee Montano, Frank Mottek, Jamie Clay, Cindy Hogan, Mat Vairo
release US 11.Mar.16, UK 18.Mar.16
16/US Paramount 1h45
10 Cloverfield Lane
The clean-up: Gallagher, Winstead and Goodman

goodman winstead gallagher
See also:
cloverfield (2008) the cloverfield paradox (2018)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
10 Cloverfield Lane With a clever blend of Hitchcock-style suspense and blockbuster thrills, first-time director Dan Trachtenberg grabs hold of the audience and never lets go. More of a spiritual successor to 2008's Cloverfield than a spin-off, this film draws strongly on a contagious sense of paranoia to tell a story with so many twists and turns that the audience is never quite sure how to hold on.

Having just broken up with her fiance (voiced by Cooper), Michelle (Winstead) is driving through rural Louisiana when reports of blackouts come through the radio and she's involved in a nasty car crash. Waking up chained to a pipe in a barren room, she meets her captor Howard (Goodman), who tells her that there has been an attack and she's lucky to be alive in his fallout bunker. Apparently, everyone above ground is dead. Also in the bunker is hapless Emmett (Gallagher), who like Michelle begins to doubt Howard's story.

The snappy script cleverly relies on innate suspicion to drive the plot. It's impossible for these three to trust each other, and the audience isn't sure about them either. So their power games become a tug of war that veers between subtle implications and all-out warfare. In this way, Trachtenberg maintains an almost oppressive sense of tension, establishing the characters meaningfully with the most precise brush strokes before throwing them at each other in unexpected ways.

Goodman has never played a character quite like this, and he brings all kinds of energy to it. Both menacing and comical, it's unclear if he's a saviour or villain, or maybe both. Gallagher is also terrific as a passive guy who does what's needed to survive. And Winstead holds the film together with an engagingly steely turn as a woman who refuses to accept anything at face value, thinks quickly and always has a plan B up her sleeve.

Every moment bristles with subtext. Trachtenberg fills scenes with witty directorial touches (boosted by Bear McCready's marvellous Herrmann-like score), quietly building the atmosphere until everything cuts loose in a series of staggering climactic scenes that are smartly shot and edited with a less-is-more sensibility. It's a riotously entertaining film that plays out like a great funhouse ride. Which also means that it feels a bit disappointing when it ends. With no lingering themes to ponder, all that's left is the desire to take the ride again.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 11.Mar.16

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