Wednesday, June 29, 2016

3+1 Short Paragraphs: 10 Cloverfield Lane

2016, Dan Trachtenberg (Portal: No Escape) -- download

I will not beg forgiveness for my love of Cloverfield.  It is on The Shelf. I am fond of any movie that wants to revisit kaiju. But make no mistake, this is not the sequel to that movie. "Spiritual successor," is how I believe JJ Abrams described it? It may or may not be the same world,  but there are no kaiju and no references to the first movie. This is a standalone thriller about a young woman trapped in a bunker with a madman. It is tense, focused and very well shot.

Michelle is running away from her fiance. No reason given, no explanation provided she just drops the ring and hops into her car. And in the dark of the night, the car collides with someone else. She awakes in a cold, concrete room injured and chained. Howard explains to her that she was in an accident and he saved her. Saved her? According to him, and very quickly he seems a little more than just a run of the mill bunker nut, the world has ended out there. There was an attack and everything is gone. Poisoned air, a nameless enemy and Howard saved her & Emmett, the guy who helped Howard build the bunker.

*spoilers*

Most of you won't care that I am spoiling the twist ending. I kind of knew where they were going; not being a spoiler worrier, I had peeked at reviews. But the build up to it is incredible. Very quickly they establish something is actually happening; Howard is not just a nutjob. A woman with a melting face pounds on the door begging to be let in. So, Michelle and Emmett are now onside and inside with Howard; too bad the creepiness does not abate. Michelle still has to escape, no matter what world is out there. And she does, but into an alien invasion. The climax of the movie has Michelle trading one dangerous situation for an even more dangerous one. But the character arc is that she will now accept the tough road, no matter the danger to herself.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead is incredible in this role. She is pretty great in everything she does actually; you can see her right now in the TV mini-series, Brain Dead which is full of dark comedy and exploding heads. Michelle is damaged, nervous, unsure but very capable. John Goodman as Howard is typical Goodman -- stable, solid and convincing. And fucking creepy. Emmett, played by a barely recognizable John Gallagher Jr (from The Newsroom), is befuddled and really just meant as a barrier between the two strong personalities. Literally a closed room movie, the movie is able to hinge on how these characters interact with each other AND maintain a tense, thriller style. Good movie.

In case you want to see Trachtenberg's short film set in the world of Portal.