10 Cloverfield Lane Plot Summary:
A woman named Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is involved in a car wreck and knocked unconscious. When she awakens she finds herself in the bunker of Doomsday “prepper” named Howard (John Goodman). Howard informs Michelle that the outside has been attacked by an unknown force and that the air is contaminated. So she, along with Howard and Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) must stay and “wait out” the fallout.
10 Cloverfield Lane was, without a doubt, one of the best theatrical experiences I’ve had in ages (discounting Star Wars: The Force Awakens, of course, because I was going to love that no matter what). The film plays like a classic episode of The Twilight Zone – screwing with your perception of reality while subtly (and maybe not so subtle?) implying something supernatural could be at play here.
The film is ending its second weekend, and there will undoubtedly be drop-off in attendance, so instead of a formal review here’s four reasons why it is imperative you watch this film at your local cineplex.
Reason #4: This is Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Best Role Since Scott Pilgrim…And It’s Probably Better Than That.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a terrific actress who hasn’t been in the greatest of movies in her career. Live Free or Die Hard? Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter? Guilty entertainment for sure, but neither are anything to write home about nor did either really showcase Winstead’s range. The Thing? Final Destination 3? Yikes. Her most well-regarded and remembered cinematic role is that of Ramona Flowers in Edgar Wright’s cult classic Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. And while it be sacrilege in some circles to speak ill of Scott Pilgrim, her performance in 10 Cloverfield Lane is light years better than her role as the object of Michael Cera’s affection. Winstead creates a character who is both strong willed, but also petrified by fear. She’s someone who could fight, but is petrified by fear — a fear that is both immediate and deep seeded. Watching her character evolve is an amazing thing to watch, and her chemistry with her co-stars is electric. This is the breakout role for Winstead.
Reason #3: The Cloverfield Connection
As an unabashed fan of the first Cloverfield you better believe when I saw the title of this movie my interest was immediately piqued. There will be no spoilers here, but if you want to find if there is a connection between the two films (and if so what it could possibly be), then you need to get a ticket. Now, here’s a warning, do not go into this movie and allow your mind to be dominated by the question of “where’s the connection?” This film is built upon suspense, distrust, and fear. This is not a found footage monster movie like Cloverfield. Let the movie unfold, and allow yourself to figure out what exactly is happening and then see if you can tie it altogther.
Reason #2: The Suspense — The Never Ending, Unyielding Suspense
The amazing thing about this is film is the suspense never stops. Director Dan Trachtenberg does a brilliant job of keeping you on pins and needles the entire length of the film. However, he’s smart about pacing. This is not a non-stop adrenaline spike where you’re constantly white knuckling the arms of your seat. If this were the case, the audience would be fatigued midway through the film. Trachtenberg knows how to reel things in, but he also knows when to kick you in the teeth with a big twist. This is an exhilarating film, and the script (crafted by Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, and Damien Chazelle) does an excellent job of taking us on a fascinating journey. Where Cloverfield captured the post-9/11 paranoia, hysteria, and devastation of the Northeast, 10 Cloverfield Lane captures the same emotions but set in the “prepper” culture.
Reason #1: John Goodman
John Goodman has been one of the finest actors of the past 30 years. Think about how great he’s been throughout his career. He’s been amazing in: Roseanne, Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, The Babe, Monsters Inc. & University, O Brothers Where Art Thou?, Argo, and his countless appearances on Saturday Night Live. The man is a national treasure. However, none of these roles can hold a candle to what he does in 10 Cloverfield Lane. His character literally runs the gamut of emotions and character archetypes, and he can turn his character’s emotions on a dime. He can go from genial giant into cold blooded tyrant in the blink of an eye. Goodman is able to embody and illustrate the aforementioned unyielding suspense of this film. The writers have done a mind blowing job of making this such a rich character, and Trachtenberg is brilliant in the pacing of this character. Nothing is rushed with Howard — we’re revealed everything at Howard’s pace. It’ll never happen, but the Oscars should make note of Goodman’s performance because this is just a masterful performance from a man who has not been nominated in his career.
10 Cloverfield Lane is currently in theaters
Bill Bodkin is the editor-in-chief of Pop-Break.com, which he co-founded in September 2009. He writes regularly for the television section – reviewing The Walking Dead every week. He also contributes to the film, music, and pro wrestling sections. He is also the host of the site’s podcast “The BreakCast” and he even sang the theme song. He is a graduate of Rutgers University and is currently a regular contributor to New Jersey Advance Media (Star-Ledger, NJ.com). He’s married, has a beautiful daughter named Sophie, and a dog named Leon. Follow him at @BodkinWrites or @PopBreakDotCom