Sunday, June 19, 2016

10 cloverfield lane [2016]

a woman breaks up with her boyfriend, moves out of his apartment leaving her key and her ring behind, and drives alone on the rural back highways of louisiana late at night.  the ex calls on her cellphone while she is driving.  she, michelle, is upset and doing her best to ignore her ex on the phone.  at that moment her car flips over.  she wakes in her underwear chained to the wall of a underground bunker.

thus begins this earnest, spiritual sequel to the found footage monster movie cloverfield [2008].  michelle, played by the very talented actress mary elizabeth winstead, is chained by howard, played by john goodman, an older man and survivalist, who tells michelle that he found her unconscious after her car accident, and that the world has been destroyed, the air outside his bunker is toxic, and everyone she ever knew is dead.

interesting set up to a chamber piece that involves three people trapped in a confined space.  the third person is emmett, played by john gallagher, jr., a young local with an arm in a sling.  later when michelle asks emmett if howard had abducted and hurt him emmett says no, he fought to get in.  something is amiss and the plot thickens.  for howard is one odd duck.  his stories about his daughter, who is absent from the bunker, and howard's paranoid, erratic behavior tightens the tension.  howard gets our hackles up, too, because he appears to be lying, about something or everything, while michelle suffers from the trauma of the auto accident as well as either being one of the lucky ones who get to live after a world-wide cataclysm, or be the prisoner of a crazy man.

this is a sequel to the earlier monster movie so are there monsters?  the tagline for this flick reads, 'monsters come in many forms', which may or may not be howard.  he is an unlikable chap with many many failings. his actions lack empathy for his young companions.  but is he a sociopath, or just an awkward man with few skills dealing with the end of the world.

there is one scene that ratchets up the tension to an nearly unbearable degree.  the trio are playing a game where the guesser has to figure out the subject printed on a card.  the only hints the guesser gets are a few words by the holder of the card.  the director, dan trachtenberg, does a good job of keeping things very tense.  the script is well done.  but it is the acting chops of winstead and goodman that keeps this vehicle running right down to an obvious if interesting denouement.  because sometimes the monsters we fear are found within, as well as outside, of us.


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