By Damian Giampietro
Being afraid of what is on the outside of the doomsday cellar should be the least of your worries.
The suspenseful thriller “10 Cloverfield Lane,” released March 11, took viewers by surprise with its pleasing characterization, minimalistic approach, small cast and cramped quarters.
Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr. and an unexpected voice appearance by Bradley Cooper, the film flaunts its acting strengths in the forefront but tightly weaves the plot in the background without audiences ever noticing how trapped in the story they actually are.
The movie begins in a silent and engaging whirlwind of Michelle (Winstead) packing a duffel bag in a hurry, making sure to grab an expensive bottle of alcohol that the camera lingers on.
Now rushing through the farmlands of Louisiana, Michelle gets into a car accident, knocking her unconscious and unresponsive.
Michelle wakes up in a room that has disturbing similarities to a prison cell with an IV in one arm and the other handcuffed to the wall.
Howard (Goodman), a creepy and looming man, greets Michelle soon after she wakes up and informs her that the outside is not safe due to an undetermined attack and toxic air.
Michelle then quickly discovers Emmett (Gallagher), a man who’s as afraid as she is but for reasons that pertain to what he witnessed on the surface.
The movie’s character development is superb though subtle and never seems to be heavy handed which helps to present whole characters who seemingly existed before their pre-cellar lives.
Emmett becomes a prime example of this when he divulges the heart-wrenching story that he never went to the college he was accepted to, but is thankful that he never went because if he did, he never would have been alive in the bunker.
The cinematography is sleek, beneficially claustrophobic and fluid but minimalistic in the way that nothing seems to be flashy or showing off just for the fun of it.
It also helps make the audience feel trapped in the basement too.
While the rest of the cast is unquestionable, John Goodman’s performance is bone chilling and uncomfortably realistic throughout the movie, causing the classic moviegoer dilemma of wanting to look away, but not being able to.
The director, Dan Trachtenberg, immediately steps away from the predictability that is usually seen in thriller movies by blending clever reveal-and-reward tactics with the film’s multifaceted characters.
The movie might share a similar name to 2008’s found footage monster film “Cloverfield,” but it does not share the same blood.
Instead, “10 Cloverfield Lane” flows in the same vein as David Robert Mitchell’s “It Follows,” an original thriller that does not follow the form of its predecessors and instead delivers a hardy story that will still have viewers chewing on it the following morning.
A crisp and authentic nail biter that will make writers and directors reconsider their ideas and approaches before placing bets, “10 Cloverfield Lane” shows all of its cards and still wins the hand.