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When the trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane arrived online around 2 months ago the internet ended up abuzz with excitement but also a bit of skepticism. The marketing for the first Cloverfield was absolutely brilliant, a marketing campaign that included no clear photographs of the monster, no idea how the monster terrorizes the city, no clue what part the characters play in helping save the city; we only knew that it was a Godzilla like monster destroying present day New York. One of the few teasers in history that completely changed the way most horror movies are advertised, as well the concept of “upcoming project shrouded in secrecy” become one of J.J. Abrams trademarks. And now there is a sequel. Well, good (or bad) news, 10 Cloverfield Lane is not really sequel to Cloverfield.
Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has just left her boyfriend and has taken off into the night on a deserted highway, when her car is suddenly run off the road. She wakes up in a claustrophobic cell when her leg chained to brick wall. Howard (John Goodman) walks in with a plate of food, places it in front of her and the madness again. When Michelle walks out of her room to analyze her surroundings, she finds that there is another resident, young Emmett (perfectly portrayed by John Gallagher, Jr.) and I cannot reveal really anymore about the plot with spoiling the rest of the film.
The performances by all three actors are top notch, especially from that of John Goodman. He is amazing as Howard, and honestly this movie would not be what it is without that performance. Most actors probably would have portrayed Howard completely one dimensional, either making him completely evil until the last minute or completely charming and switching to evil within the last two minutes. With Howard, you really do not know what he is. You know he is completely evil, those traits are described early on. But Howard may also be good, and that maybe something horrible happened to him to alter his personality. There are exactly three actors in this film, all performing on a small set, with no exteriors. And I was not bored once. I was constantly telling myself that I have no idea what the outcome of this movie was going to be. And most importantly, how will it connect to Cloverfield?
This is not a sequel to Cloverfield. At least not in an obvious way. J.J. Abrams is known for hiding a lot of Easter eggs in his films that connect to his others that are not really discussed or spoken about until the movie has left theaters or die hard Abrams fans discover these Easter eggs after multiple viewings and post them online. You are not going to go into this movies seeing really any obvious similarities. What you will receive is a solid, well-performed thriller without that the aid of flashy special effects or elaborate sets to further illustrate its plot points.
If you have seen the original film and you were a fan, you will be constantly looking for connections between the two films, to the point where it will be disturbing and almost take you out of 10 Cloverfield Lane. There are absolutely no references to the monster, or New York City being destroyed, or really aliens. It’s almost if 10 Cloverfield Lane is Cloverfield’s distant cousin. That aspect will be quite a bit disappointing.
10 Cloverfield Lane is tight, suspenseful thriller. There are some more issues, such as it drags at some parts, and there are some important plot points that could use a little more explanation than provided. But it is a really solid film that can be thoroughly be enjoyed as a psychological thriller, not a horror movie.