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10 Cloverfield Lane
Genre Thriller
 
Review:

10 Cloverfield Lane follows Cloverfield, a sci-fi thriller that tracked some kids with a first-person video camera perspective during a monster attack on New York City. Matt Reeves went on to direct Let Me In and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and there wasn't much thought to a Cloverfield prequel or sequel. Well, eight years down the track we have one. Instead of going for another city demolition monster movie in the vein of Godzilla, they've gone for a tight, claustrophobic and rural thriller in which the real monster is inherent in man himself.

This one's directed by newcomer, Dan Trachtenberg, who will undoubtedly follow a similar trajectory to Matt Reeves. Being a low budget thriller a few steps up from the coffin in Buried or boot in Brake, he's forced to get creative in terms of framing the thriller, using some classic red herring tactics while leaning into some fresh surprises with some fairly dexterous storytelling. While not quite as constrained as the Reynolds and Dorff vehicles, this follow-up to Cloverfield, takes a page, throwing our characters into the confines of a fully-kitted bomb shelter after a woman's rescuer claims the world has been subjected to a widespread chemical attack.

Being so up close and personal, Trachtenberg's forced to wring as much as he can out of his small, yet accomplished cast starring John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr. and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Goodman doesn't often tackle lead roles and here he's been given the chance to shine with an intricate co-lead performance demanding a strong presence as Howard. He goes head-to-head with our heroine in Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle, who remains defiant and quite enigmatic as his project and counterpart.

10 Cloverfield Lane is largely about keeping the audience on edge and slightly off-balance. The see-sawing of uncertainty adds a layer of suspense to this well-crafted thriller that keeps you guessing as the would-be rescuer falls in and out of favour with both Michelle and the audience.

Just when you think you've got a grip on the situation, it changes quite surprisingly, making the experience fresh, tense and exciting. The thriller moves with purpose, never stagnating in its limited space and remaining taut despite some of the story's frayed ends. The MacGyver tactics and bunker life hold their own interest, but its the psychological warfare that is most intriguing.

While small in nature, it's big in terms of entertainment and comprises some beautifully-composed and tightly-wound sequences, which gradually escalate from a single room hostage drama to something much more sinister. This is an ambitious film and Trachtenberg more than manages to keep a lid on it until the pot literally explodes. It's a bold and gripping thriller spurred on by strong performances, a smart script and restrained direction as one story dwarfs another.

The bottom line: Terrific


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