Thursday, April 14, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“10 Cloverfield Lane” Raises Goosebumps
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

When Orson Welles broadcast a 1938 radio play based on H.G. Wells’ “War of the World,” people panicked, thinking aliens were attacking.

More recently screenwriters Josh Campbell, Matthew Stucken and Danien Chazelle updated the idea, combining elements of “Room” and “Signs.” Then under the patronage of J.J. Abrams (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,”  “Super 8,” “Cloverfield”), first-time director Dan Trachtenberg called the film “10 Cloverfield Lane.”

Just for the record, despite its title, “10 Cloverfield Lane” is not exactly a sequel to the monster-movie “Cloverfield.” But Abrams likes to call it a “a blood relative.”

In it, a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has a car wreck late at night in rural Louisiana, only to wake up chained to a wall in an underground bunker. Has she been abducted?

Well, yes and no. Michelle’s captor, a fat man named Howard (John Goodman), explains that the country is under attack -- whether by the Russians or aliens from outer space, he’s not sure -- and he’s saved her, having found her near the wrecked car. Another survivor huddles with them in the bunker is a young guy named Elliot (John Gallagher, Jr.). He swears he witnessed the attack and came to Howard’s bunker for safety.

Not trusting ol’ Howard and his pal Elliot, Michelle tries to escape, only to encounter a woman with melting skin just outside the airlock. Frightened by this evidence of an outside disaster, she retreats back inside.

This doesn’t mean she trusts Howard; just that she wants to find a safer way to go into the blighted world. Maybe she can convince Elliot to help her build a biohazard suit…?

Meanwhile, you’re sitting there in the audience, unsure of what to believe. Is the alien attack an elaborate hoax? Is Howard a monster, responsible for a local schoolgirl’s disappearance? Is Elliot on Michelle’s side or Howard’s? Is Michelle risking her life by leaving the bunker? What the heck’s going on?

No spoilers here. Producer J.J. Abrams wants you to be surprised.

You will be.

“10 Cloverfield Lane” is playing at Tropic Cinema. The movie’s tagline says, “Monsters Come In Many Forms.” Okay, that’s a hint.

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