10 Cloverfield Lane is a psychological thriller film released in North America on March 11th, 2016. It was directed by Dan Trachtenberg (@DannyTRS) and stars John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (@M_E_Winstead) and John Gallagher, Jr. (@JohnGallagherJr).
I saw 10 Cloverfield Lane with my girlfriend the other night and was totally into the movie all the way up until the last ten minutes. Everything up until that point had been very engaging. It was tense, scary, thrilling and wonderfully shot. There were so many scenes that had me on the edge of my seat in anticipation. So many moments that shocked me to the point of disbelief. But the ending? The ending blows harder than a kid blowing into his DS playing Wario Ware.
For those who don’t know 10 Cloverfield Lane is a psychological thriller directed by Dan Trachtenberg and produced by J.J. Abrams. I wanted to see it based solely on Abrams’ pedigree and my love of thrillers. Abrams describes 10 Cloverfield Lane as a “blood relative” to his 2008 produced found footage horror movie Cloverfield. This time around it’s a lot more contained. Almost the entire movie takes place in the same bunker where Michelle (Mary Winstead) is trying to figure out if there is actually a huge disaster happening outside while at the same time trying to uncover information about her mysterious captor Howard (John Goodman).
The premise is intriguing in its own right but the way mystery is slowly injected throughout the movie until it comes to a very satisfying climax is great. But after that payoff there is an absolutely unbearable ending that had my girlfriend and I in disbelief. How could a movie that got so much right get something so wrong?
That being said Mary Winstead absolutely nails her role as Michelle. Michelle is an extremely resourceful character with an almost MacGyver-esque aptitude for getting out of situations. She uses what’s around her to solve interesting dilemmas and scenarios in very believable and interesting ways. Michelle is joined by another great character in Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.). Emmett is an adorable, lovable country guy who just wants to help and worked great onscreen next to Michelle and especially in contrast to Howard. Howard is a genuinely terrifying character who’s unpredictability make scenes more tense just with his presence.
The most glaring problem other than the ending is with Howard. There is no motivation given for the way he acts but the way he clenches and un-clenches his hands when he’s stressed implies that he’s suffering from a mental illness or possibly PTSD from his time in the Navy, one of the few things we actually get told about Howard. While this won’t matter to some people it should. Using a mental illness as the sole reason for a character to be violent and aggressive just perpetuates a horrible stigma about mental health, one that I have talked about at length before.
10 Cloverfield Lane is a shallow psychological thriller but a thriller none the less. If you’re looking for a movie with tense scenes and intrigue throughout then this is a must see. If you’re looking for a movie with a meaningful antagonist and a rewarding ending maybe skip this one. Either way be prepared for a ridiculously underwhelming and disappointing ending.