10 Cloverfield Lane review: New kind of monster, different kind of beast

  • Rohan Naahar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 30, 2016 09:06 IST
Mary Elizabeth Winstead carries the film on her shoulders, with humour, heart, and a fair share of horror.

10 Cloverfield Lane
Director - Dan Trachtenberg
Cast - Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr
Rating - 3.5/5

2008 was a fantastic year for genre movies. In July, Chris Nolan changed the game by answering the question ‘what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?’ in The Dark Knight. But just a few months before that, JJ Abrams and Matt Reeves quietly shook things up in their own mysterious way when they unleashed Cloverfield upon the world. You can still hear the screams, “Oh my God! Oh my God!”

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What we have with 10 Cloverfield Lane, a film that is at best a tangential spinoff of the first movie, is a three-act stage drama masquerading as a psychological thriller, which, by the time act three rolls around, evolves into a whole different kind of beast.

Together with Emmett, another man ‘rescued’ by Goodman’s Howard, the three form a family of sorts as they confront their options. But soon, things - as they often tend to do – take a turn for the worse.

More good news: 10 Cloverfield Lane works perfectly as a stand-alone sequel. It requires absolutely no knowledge of the first film.

Goodman’s character is a kook – or, at least a former kook. As far as unreliability goes, he’s Keyser Söze from The Usual Suspects. But that’s not the thing. There is no way of knowing if he is telling the truth or not. He has spent his entire life preparing for something like this, probably getting laughed at and mocked, but now his obsessions have been validated.

Cloverfield – the original – is a personal favourite, as is last year’s Room. So 10 Cloverfield Lane, at least on paper, sounds almost too good to be true. But it sure comes close. With its perfectly timed twists, equally captivating silences, engrossing performances, and a sense of foreboding mystery that is stretched to breaking point, it succeeds.

As for that ending, I can’t say much. But let’s just leave it at this: With the instant classic Midnight Special and now this, I wouldn’t be surprised if in another 8 years, I look back on 2016 with the same fondness I have for 2008.

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The author tweets @NaaharRohan

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