<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg. Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr
Running Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Inspite of the good reviews its getting more seasoned viewers will see through the gimmicky, contrived and formula plot of 10 Cloverfield Lane.
Wasn’t there an alien movie called Cloverfield a couple of years ago? Yes there was and JJ Abrams produced that too. So you get kind of a hint to what this film may be about. But then you sort of realise it has nothing to do with that film.
Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has left her fiancé and is driving along one of those empty but scenic American roads when eerie music leads you to the predictable conclusion that something bad is about to happen. She gets hit by a car and crashes. Immediately after, she’s in a threadbare room attached to an IV and chained to the wall. Her captor is Howard (John Goodman) who tells her he saved her after the accident and is keeping her in his bunker house because an attack – probably by the Russians or an alien race – has rendered the air outside toxic to humans. Of course he seems totally psycho and implausible but then you wonder that this could also be misdirection leading to a surprise.
Michelle has company in the underground house: Emmett (John Gallagher Jr) has voluntarily taken refuge there but soon comes under Michelle’s influence and believes that Howard is off his rocker and they must both find a way out.
Michelle comes across as a modern-day MacGyver (for non-80s TV fans, he’s a guy who could make a space ship out of straw and strings and his Swiss army knife), as she plots her escape. Doubt remains in her mind and yours about this supposed chemical attack and what is actually going on. If you remember the Oscar-winning film Room, you’ll notice similarities as far as the whole kidnapping and living in this claustrophobic space that becomes your whole world theme. Room of course was far better and devoid of the Hollywood hysterics and gimmicks that pervade through 10 Cloverfield Lane.
While John Goodman plays the unbalanced saviour well, you can’t help but see him as the cuddly good guy you know he is. Any other actor could easily have replaced Mary Elizabeth Winstead as she brings very little personality or tenacity to her character.
The last half hour of the film devolves into such complete and utter nonsense that it totally undoes whatever tension the film has built up previously. It’s just a twist for the sake of it but ultimately leads to a sigh of ‘what the hell is this?’ in the viewers’ mind.
Room was made with subtle performances and a deft hand. In contrast, 10 Cloverfield Lane was made with over the top acting and someone high on video games and the drive to try and make a doped out version of Room.