The latest release from J.J. Abrams’s Bad Robot Productions is ’10 Cloverfield Lane,’ the “spiritual successor” to the 2008 low-budget found-footage giant monster smash hit ‘Cloverfield’ that raked in $170.8 million worldwide. So why not a sequel? Because kaiju flicks have been done to death subsequently in movies such as Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘Pacific Rim’ and Gareth Edward’s ‘Godzilla’ reboot.
Like its spiritual predecessor, the plot of 10CL is shrouded in mystery, with its trailer revealing very little in the way of premise. Three individuals (John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr. and Mary Elizabeth Winstead) are cooped up in a well-furnished bomb shelter/underground bunker. At the end of the trailer, Michelle (guess which actor) escapes and is about to gain access to the outside world while Howard (Goodman) chases after her yelling “NO, NO, NO, NO!!!!” in helpless desperation. What unspeakable horrors could possibly be awaiting outside that door? Intriguing minds would like to know, please.
The trailer so piqued my curiosity (I’m not a cat, so there) that I had to see it on its first day of release. And boy, 10CL did not disappoint! This is the kind of movie that pulls you in and draws your full attention, not letting go until the final credits roll. The term “Cloverfield,” as in the first film, is purely incidental and I’m sure they’ll find a creative way to tie it in if a third installment that has nothing at all to do with the previous two is green-lit. First-time director Dan Trachtenberg built the suspense slowly but surely throughout the film, laying on the mystery with the assured hand of a seasoned veteran. 10CL is oppressive at times and feels a bit like a ‘Twilight Zone’ episode. Acting-wise, Goodman is solid as usual, but Winstead delivered one of her most engaging performances as the movie’s main protagonist. Visit ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ by all means, but it’s best to go in with no expectations whatsoever.