Hello and welcome to the movie blog of author John DeFrank - FilmZ and Guy Sobriquet Malone - Researcher

10 Cloverfield Lane

Director Dan Trachtenberg, in his first feature film, working from a taut, suspenseful script written by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) and two others, gave us quite a few jolts and surprises. It kept us guessing up until the last ten minutes when it then betrayed us like Santa Claus did when we thought we were unwrapping an 18-year-old single malt only to find Jenga inside.
As the film opens, our heroine Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is fleeing across the rural Southland at night. She gets a call from her recently-jilted fiance Ben (voiced by Bradley Cooper--at first, I thought he had misdialed Jennifer Lawrence) pleading for Michelle to return to him. She hangs up, effectively isolating herself from the world. A sudden car accident renders her unconscious, and when she awakens she is handcuffed to a pipe, an IV tube stuck in her arm, and she is staring at blank concrete block walls and a double-locked metal security door wondering what the hell happened.
Enter Howard (John Goodman), who claims to have saved her, not only from the accident but also from a vaguely described invasion--"Russkies" or aliens, using poison gas or biological agents, he isn't sure. Howard has brought her to his well-equipped if Spartan bunker along with Emmett (Short Term 12's John Gallagher, Jr.), a field hand who has worked on Howard's farm. Emmett is a nice, good old boy who has a courteous Southern manner and some big regrets. Goodman's Howard is a conspiracy nut whose nuttiness isn't limited to conspiracies. He's a twitchy powder keg; much of the tension revolves around the question of how malevolent his intentions. But the movie belongs to Winstead, whose Michelle sees herself as the type of person who always runs away from problems, but in the strict confines of the bunker, she finds grit, resourcefulness, and an indomitable will.
I first saw Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the 2010 cult favorite Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, a film that featured a number of young stars, among them, Brie Larson, who recently won just about every Best Actress award for her role in Room, another movie about a young woman's claustrophobic confinement by a psychopath (there's even a skylight in both movies). Part of me wonders if Winstead saw Room and wondered what the hell happened.

6 out of 10


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