Monday, May 09, 2016

'10 Cloverfield Lane' Is Not the Sequel to 'Cloverfield'; Good Thing It's Great Nonetheless

10 Cloverfield Lane is the pseudo-sequel to the 2008 hit found footage monster film Cloverfield.  I say “pseudo-sequel” because it isn’t the direct sequel this movie was initially thought to be when it unexpectedly revealed its existence for the first time.  In fact, I find no real connections between the two films.  Of if there are any, they are too subtle and I didn’t find them.

By this, the Cloverfield franchise is seemingly functioning as an anthology film series rather than a shared universe serial – with each installment independent from other films.  On the other hand, future films might actually present details that will reveal a relationship between these films.  J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot Productions are being enigmatic about it, and it’s actually great.  The franchise maintains the element of surprise.

Anyway, 10 Cloverfield Lane is about a young woman, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who wakes up after a car accident in an underground bunker built by an eccentric doomsday prepper named Howard (John Goodman).  She insists to leave the place but Howard strongly urges her to stay, as he claims the world outside has been recently made inhabitable by an unknown apocalyptic attack.  Also in the bunker with them is another survivor, Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.), Howard’s neighbor.  But as the trio is beginning to adapt living in the well-furnished bunker, Michelle finds clues that make her suspicious of Howard, rekindling her desire to escape.

Even if it seems to have no links to the first movie – which is a thrilling, ground-breaking science fiction horror film as well as one of the best found footage films ever – 10 Cloverfield Lane stands quite well on its own.  It has a Twilight Zone vibe going for it.  And just like that awesome TV show, this movie is smart, gripping, and provocative.  It also has twists, though not as mindblowing as the best of Twilight Zone, and are actually somewhat predictable.  But, still, the reveals are executed and built up flawlessly.  Thus, the narrative is terrific in general.  Also, the great performances by its actors significantly help in keeping the small scale, confined story riveting all throughout.

10 Cloverfield Lane turns out to be as fresh and cleverly crafted as Cloverfield.  It’s probably even superior in several ways.  In fact, the only “downside” about this movie is that I now have lofty expectations for the next Cloverfield installment.

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