MOVIE REVIEW: 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

It would not be hard to revisit the 2008 found-footage disaster movie Cloverfield just to recall the kind of terror it offers. Back then, with the growing popularity of the subgenre, the world has just consequently become saturated with this technique. Among the lot are the good titles like Afflicted, The Sacrement, and the V/H/S installments. Cloverfield may not be flawless of its kind but it remains a memorable monster movie through the years despite its production’s low budget. Rewatching it entails the same courage the face the unknown and deal with the realities of an apocalyptic setting.

With 10 Cloverfield Lane marketed as a “blood relative” of the 2008 film, it just seems necessary to look for similarities: the only thing that can be spilled, though, is that there is a certain vibe in the both films that lingers all throughout. Just like in the first one, tension is an important factor that drives the story of the Manhattan attack forward, but this time around, it takes a different path and presents itself as not just an ordinary follow-up. Indeed, it is an intriguing second chapter to what could be a series of Cloverfield movies in the offing. With a smart story told in a convenient fashion, no one could go wrong with this psychological thriller that exhibits the wondere of a three-character black-box theater production.

10 Cloverfield Lane tells the story of Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who, following a road accident, finds herself in an underground bunker with her leg chained to the wall. She meets his host Howard Stambler, played by the ever-gritty John Goodman, who claims that he has saved her life not just from the accident but also from an attack that has made the air above the ground intoxicated. Completing the trio is John Gallagher, Jr. who plays Howard’s neighbor Emmett, who has forced himself into the hiding place after having witnessed the attack.

The moment John Goodman’s Howard Stambler cries “Crazy is building the ark after the flood has already come,” the uncertainty about his character is yet again taken to a higher level of ‘crazy.’ Every passing moment of 10 Cloverfield Lane is an exposition of a larger scale of storytelling. However simple the conversations are, every single detail is given enough weight of attention, be it through the smooth movements of the camera or as breadcrumbs leading to a palpable destination (and conversely enjoins threading clues to comprehend the bigger picture).

As claustrophobic as the setting of 10 Cloverfield Lane are the personalities of the three characters involved in an almost whodunnit setup. Every one of them is suspecting the others, keeping in mind that nobody can be trusted and the truth is just around the corner.

Aided by Bear McCreary’s throbbing musical score, the film effectively makes use of this element to heighten the dilemma, the unsound questions and ultimately the uncertainties that the characters live by. Producer J.J. Abrams has yet again provided his audiences with an intelligent output that mirrors the wonders of the now-defunct TV series Fringe. We just have to take every little thing with open eyes and a reliable sense of concentration. 10 Cloverfield Lane smoothly delivers through director Dan Trachtenberg’s skillful hands (more commendable for a debut work). There is more to it than its short runtime has in store. And now we await another sequel or spin-off or spiritual successor or whatnot just to satisfy the craving one could get out of sitting through it.

With every moment so cleverly written to details, 10 Cloverfield Lane just leaves you wordless, breathless and, oh, so hopeless. Heart-pounding, thrilling and exciting, it knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat with all your scares screaming inside. The experience is more than satisfying as you take a look back, knowing that it is too short for a rather long journey ahead of its three characters who will everything to survive.

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is now showing in cinemas nationwide as distributed by United International Pictures Philippines.

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