by Sam Robinson
Rated M. Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.. Directed by Dan Trachtenberg.
There’s no other word to describe 10 Cloverfield Lane, the surprise sorta-sequel to 2008’s cult hit Cloverfield. I was so glued to this that my box of popcorn sat uneaten for most of the film’s runtime.
Dan Trachtenberg makes his directorial debut here, and by no means is this a carbon copy of its namesake. This is no found footage film – instead it is a steadily-shot mystery thriller that is set for the most part in a cold, fluorescently-lit underground bunker. As with many J.J. Abrams-produced films and TV series, do whatever you can to avoid spoilers – 10 Cloverfield Lane is a film best served cold.
As trailers have revealed, a woman named Michelle (Winstead) wakes up in an underground cellar, her leg chained to the wall. She discovers she has been taken in by a man named Howard (Goodman) who insists that the world has been hit by a chemical attack, and he saved her life from the dangerous air outside. Thus the question for the rest of the film is – what is the truth? Is Howard a monster, or a good guy? Has there been a chemical attack, or is it all made up?
Trachtenberg expertly strings you along, shifting your perception about Howard, and keeping you gunning for Michelle. Cleverly, not everything is resolved by the end of the film, which means that cinemas will be all a-chatter. Bear McCreary’s intense soundtrack adds to the drama, as does the claustrophobic set – watching Michelle crawl through a tiny air vent will leave you short of breath. It isn’t until the film’s coda that an abrupt shift takes place, which in my opinion takes away from the drama beforehand – can you tell I’m avoiding giving spoilers?
Our world is a frightening place. Films such as 10 Cloverfield Lane remind us of this – particularly as you leave the cinema feeling a little spooked. Sin has infected our world and our hope of a new creation is certain – because of what Jesus achieved in his death and resurrection. But until then, we live in a broken world full of ‘monsters’. The good news is that God is always with us – no matter where we are, no matter what tyranny we are under, or even when we feel like his love is far from us. It’s a well-quoted psalm, but I love David’s words in Psalm 23:4 –
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Man may hurt us, we may feel uncertain, but we have no reason to fear. God is with us always, and we can know his love through the great advocate Jesus has left us, his Holy Spirit (John 14:26).
The Verdict: 10 Cloverfield Lane is an intense, engaging, and chilling mystery. Check it out before someone spoils it for you. And don’t bother getting popcorn. 4/5
10 Cloverfield Lane releases in cinemas worldwide today.