Movie Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane (Spoiler-Free)

Published on March 14th, 2016 in: Current Faves, Horror, Movie Reviews, Movies |

By Jeffery X Martin

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Calling 10 Cloverfield Lane a sequel to 2008’s found footage monster movie, Cloverfield, is kind of like calling Easter the sequel to Christmas. It is, but it isn’t. That’s what makes the second installment, in what can only be referred to as the Cloverfield Anthology, different and brave.

The shaky-cam that famously made some viewers physically ill during the first film is nowhere to be found here. It’s just a straightforward conventional film. This break from the original Cloverfield conceit is an interesting choice. While found footage in the horror genre is now a staple, because it’s cheap and allows for easy tension-building, it would have been a bad format for 10 Cloverfield Lane, where the focus in on the story, not the creatures.

The story, filled with claustrophobic moments and surprising plot twists, is one of the leanest, meanest horror scripts in years. Make no mistake: this is definitely a horror movie. There are moments in this film that will unsettle and disturb you, and practically all of them come from one source: John Goodman.

Goodman is nothing short of an American treasure. His work with Joe Dante and the Coen Brothers alone proves that. His performance as Howard in 10 Cloverfield Lane is phenomenal. He carries the movie, with his nervous tics and irrational, spastic behavior. Goodman is the king of small business: the wringing of hands, the sideways glance, the heavy sigh. Howard is the most terrifying character on movie screens since Anthony Hopkins became Hannibal Lecter. That’s a giant claim, but Goodman’s work is so precise, he sears the character into your brain. He doesn’t even need a snap mask.

10 Cloverfield Lane takes place while the events of the original film are taking place somewhere else. It’s a great conceit, which uses Cloverfield in a clever, almost subliminal way, without having to rely on it completely. You don’t need to see the first one to enjoy the new one.

It’s a top-flight movie, anchored around the magnificence that is John Goodman, with a third act that will leave audiences discussing not only the decisions of a major character, but what the definition of “monster” truly is.

RELATED LINKS:

The X List: Found Footage Films

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