By Christian DiMartino
That J.J. Abrams is a cunning bastard.
In a world in which plot points are leaked (or, in the case of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight), scripts are leaked, Abrams manages to make a sequel to a cult hit… without anyone knowing what the hell it is. You have to admire that. In fact, I will keep the plot points brief, just in case Abrams decides to have me whacked.
10 Cloverfield Lane is apparently a sequel to Cloverfield, but you’d never know it. In fact, I had a few people ask me if they’d be lost if they haven’t seen the original. My answer: Hell no. Sure, there is a connection, but it doesn’t involve any of the characters from the predecessor. So, my question is: Why call it a sequel? Why not just make it its own standalone project? Perhaps this is nitpicking. Give me a week, and my praise might be a little higher.
As I said before, I’ll keep the plot details brief. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is kind of perfect as Michelle, a woman on her way to escaping it all… until she’s in a car accident. When she wakes up, she’s chained up in an underground bunker. Turns out the bunker belongs to a farmer named Howard (John Goodman, in easily his juiciest role in some time), who found her (maybe). Turns out there’s some sort of apocalypse going on outside, hence why the two of them, along with another guy named Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), are all shacked up down there. Or… is it? Is there more than meets the eye? That, I will not say, because that would only spoil the fun.
10 Cloverfield Lane is a pure white-knuckler. It’s an intelligent thriller that works, considering it mostly takes place in this bunker. I kind of wish the story would’ve spread its wings a little more, but hey, the claustrophobia at hand is very effective. As are the excellent performances.
This is one of those films in which not only is it dependent on story, but its also dependent on delivery, and luckily, the trio at hand here is dynamite. As is newcommer Dan Trachtenberg, who directs this thing like a pro.
I’m at a crossroads between myself. I feel like this film deserves more than 3 stars, because I did thoroughly enjoy it, and at times, I loved it. It is a sequel that surpasses the original. But I suppose for now, the simplicity is kind of holding me back. Regardless, Abrams has expressed interest in further Cloverfield stories. To that I say, count me in.