Sunday, April 10, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

10 Cloverfield Lane

Watch the skies! This is what you will whisper to yourself from the very first second of "10 Cloverfield Lane" by director Dan Trachtenberg. This matinee-flavored film is a thrill from start to finish, not for what it reveals, but for what it leaves in the dark. The film, which bears the stamp of its producer J.J. Abrahms, has an excellent escapism. The entire production is aware of its potential, the legacy of Spielberg and the impact that an adventurous film has when it is done well.

The story shares its shocks with its first cousin, "Cloverfield" in the sci-fi genre, though it is not a sequel. We don't know the cause, but as in the predecessor, something is strange regarding the mere sight of Cloverfield depicted here as a name on a mailbox.

In this chapter, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), is a young woman who has a very percussive and dangerous car accident. Instead of waking in a hospital, she comes to in an underground bunker. Enter Howard (John Goodman) a round and rough survivalist who is as intimidating  as his heavy leather belt, studded with metal and large 1970s era keys.

He means business.

Michelle doesn't like being held in a small cell, but Howard tells her that America has been attacked, that the air is now toxic and most have died. The core of the film is John Goodman in his fierce and engaging role as the tumescent Howard. There are plenty of unnerving jolts and Goodman has a wonderful deadpan, and clearly relishes this role. The film teases relentlessly with verve and free wheeling joy in the spirit of Halloween. The sight of Goodman's face alone, either as puffy as a blowfish or as pleased as a preacher at a pancake breakfast, is worth the price of admission.

And because the audience is left wondering, the "what if" anxiety recalls something of Orson Welles' "The War of the Worlds" radio broadcast.  For much of the film, one is entertained and satisfactorily left to ponder and worry. There are some genuine creepy scares that feel as though they were taken directly from "Weird Tales" magazine.

There is Emmitt (John Gallagher, Jr.), a passive second captive who attempts to take a stand against the stern and corpulent Howard, one part Svengali , one part General Patton.

"10 Cloverfield Lane" works wonderfully as a "Twilight Zone" film, not to mention some great camp and circumstance. At its end, it betrays its sleight of hand just a smidgen, yet the final trick is thankfully not out of the hat when the final credits appear.

Write Ian at

No comments: