For a long time, Cloverfield was not expressly linked to the film and it was simply known as The Cellar, which worked like a charm to surprise fans and begin hype when the trailer was finally released and it was renamed 10 Cloverfield Lane, however this is not Cloverfield 2. After Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) gets into a car accident late at night, she wakes to find herself in a bunker with two strangers (John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr), telling her that the world outside is a toxic wasteland and she will not be allowed to leave.
You have to talk about Goodman’s performance first, as it is in one word, phenomenal. The closest comparison to be made might be his role in Barton Fink (which if you haven’t seen, add to your watchlists now for a Coen classic), he is an actor that has been through a long list of different characters, all with highly varying personalities and has still managed to take on something completely different in his portrayal of the spine-chilling Howard. Winstead on the other hand is no stranger to films like these and for good reason, it’s definitely a genre in which she shines, her ability to portray both the vulnerable, weakened victim and a strong, determined woman is impressive. Gallagher Jr. may not be a name most people will recognise but you may have seen him in Short Term 12, The Newsroom or Olive Kitteridge, in this case he provides our likeable, chatty buffer between Howard and Michelle, cutting a little bit of the serious tension. The great acting in this film means that despite taking place in a very enclosed location, it never feels claustrophobic, until it means to.
First and foremost it has to be acknowledged that Dan Trachtenberg has created something so fantastic on his directorial debut, it’s such a rarity that on top of the film itself, it’s something wonderful to see but with the heavy hitting team that was behind him, there was always a good sign that it would be a success. Any film that uses suspense and tension within a thriller environment is nearly always described as Hitchcockian, which is a good enough analogy but this is something that is entirely it’s own thing and owns that use of bringing you to the edge of the seat. Even without it being related to Cloverfield, it would have been perfectly good and it was possible the connection would feel like a cheap tactic to attract a larger audience but it in fact adds another edge to the story and pushes that suspense and anticipation to another level. Every aspect of the film fits together from thriller to sci-fi to disaster, there’s not too much or too little of anything, the end result is in perfect harmony.
The anticipation for this film went through the roof after the first trailer appeared and that has been entirely satisfied, in no way does it disappoint. What’s been created here is something different and a much needed change to the releases that have been seen in the past two months, the success it has seen is completely justified and a definite must see in cinemas right now.