10 Cloverfield Lane
"10 Cloverfield Lane", with solid acting and directing, is a very engaging and entertaining film on the surface, but logically and structurally has many flaws that limit the experience.
Second movie in Cloverfield saga, is a very solid movie on it’s own. And though it takes very little from the first film (except maybe the fact that both been produced by JJ Abrams) I can only wonder, at what point in the production did it occur to make this a Cloverfield movie? Because, they say initially it was just a spec low-budget indie movie script
And you can feel it from the get go. 95% of the film is confined to the bunker in which three main characters are trapped, being saved by the owner. USA is under attack by some mysterious enemy (Russins? Koreans? ISIS? Aliens?). Howard (John Goodman) is the owner of the bunker. He is a huge conspiracy theorist. Otherwise who would have built and furnished a full-blown bunker? By some circumstances, he ends up taking two guests in – Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.). He claims they owe him for saving their lives. Because, God knows, it might be a nuclear attack or something. And per Howard everyone is dead already. But slowly the guests start worrying about their well-being in “caring” hands of Howard. They start wondering the severity of the attack. Or whether it ever happened to begin with.
Premise is ambitious. Having three heroes sit tight in confined space and figure out what is going on is very engaging. Howard’s borderline psycho personality pushes others to come up with
plans to escape. Film is a nail-biter. All three cast members deliver solid work. Goodman is menacingly devious, Winstead is cautious, but brave, Gallagher Jr is naive and trusting. Director Dan Trachtenberg creates the atmosphere and keeps viewer engaged till the end. So you would think everything is great with this film? Not at all. What the movie fails on is the a multiple structural and plot holes.
First, film doesn’t know what it wants to be. I mean, sure, it was a psychological thriller when it was written. But with introduction of Cloverfield element in the story film starts deviating from the premise. What starts as a serial killer/slasher film, turns into thriller, which turns into horror, which turns into survival, which turns into something totally else in the end (not spoiling). This constant shift in narrative may have helped the film in the beginning, but it gets really annoying towards the end. It is at then you realize that maybe they should have left off the whole Cloverfield theme out of it and just made the film to be on its own. But that’s just wishful thinking.
Second, some choices of the heroes make no sense at all. Without dwelling into much detail, one of the plot lines is based on the flaw in the design of the bunker, which is so painstakingly obvious, it’s not even funny. It feels like screenwriters had a bad day trying to come up with ingenious way to have a character “discover” a secret. Very annoying. In another example (and this is very recurring) characters somehow find privacy to talk/plan/act. In a bunker. A small confined space. Where the restroom door is just a shower curtain. Meh.
Third, the ending. You have to see it to understand what I am saying.
In summary, “10 Cloverfield Lane” is a very engaging and entertaining film on the surface, with solid acting and directing, but logically and structurally has many flaws that substantially limit the experience.