10 Cloverfield field is director Dan Trachtenberg’s first feature length film and stars John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. The film follows Michelle (Winstead), who wakes up in an underground bunker after being knocked unconscious in a car crash. With her are two men, Elliot (Gallagher) and her “rescuer” Howard (Goodman), who claims he saved her from an unknown attack that rendered the outside world toxic and inhospitable. The film largely takes place inside the bunker with only these three characters and so is very small and isolated in scale. Although it carries the Cloverfield name it is nothing like that film, so if you go in expecting the big monster movie Cloverfield was you may come out disappointed as this film is more about these characters and their confinement. If you don’t go in expecting a big monster and instead expect a very intense psychological thriller you will not be disappointed.
With a cast as small as this the performances mean a lot, and none of the cast are weak in any way. Mary Elizabeth Winstead brilliantly shows the fear and uncertainty that is required. You feel connected to her character as she is very likeable. You are trapped with her and share her emotions. She changes a lot through the film, making her performance very gripping. John Gallagher Jr.’s character Emmett is also very relatable. He brings a very light-hearted presence at times and acts as the comic relief a few times. He has a very fast wit and good pace which makes him as likeable as Winstead. He is also very emotional when the moment calls for it and so his character is also very relatable and touching. You feel equally sorry for him as you do for Winstead and the pair have a good chemistry together, as they form a friendship. However, Gallagher’s character isn’t as much off a focus as the other two and so the emotional connection to him isn’t as strong. John Goodman stole the whole film for me. His portrayal of Howard was fascinating and complex. There is a constant feeling of unease whenever he’s on screen, and you can feel his presence hanging in the air even when he’s out of the scene. He can be terrifyingly aggressive one minute and creepily friendly the next, and the way his rage can build creates brilliant tension. Goodman has once again shown his incredible talent and his complex and detailed performance is truly fantastic.
Trachtenberg does a very good job of keeping the isolated location of the film interesting. He creates a claustrophobic atmosphere throughout and he never specifies how much time is passing so you feel like the characters would feel, as there are no windows so it’s hard to keep track of how many day’s weeks or even months they’re trapped. He also creates brilliant tension which makes the film quite scary at times. The tension builds slowly throughout and erupts in some very intense moments, I was on the edge of my seat for a lot of the film. There are a few jump scares but not an overabundance of them so it doesn’t feel lazy but instead adds to the fear you feel all the way to the end. There is some very unique and creative direction from Trachtenberg which adds to the overall experience of the film.
I’m going to quickly touch on the ending, without spoiling it. At first I felt like the ending didn’t really fit in with the rest of the film, but as it continued I got more and more intrigued by it, and this intrigue continued after the film finished, so much so that I now really like the ending. I can understand someone not liking it as it doesn’t answer all your questions and actually creates lots more, but I personally like that as, whether you like it or not, it will definitely leave you thinking.
10 Cloverfield Lane is a very original and intense psychological thriller, with brilliant performances, that is very gripping. It is definitely worth seeing.
P.S. I was surprised that this film was only rated 12, it felt like it would be rated 15. Still, it’s good that more people can see it, just don’t think it’s aimed at 12 year olds, it feels very adult.