10 Cloverfield Lane

Which is more terrifying, monster or man?

In the world of cinema, doomsday is generally announced far enough in advance for people to prepare for it—or at least be watching when shit hits the fan. 10 Cloverfield Lane, the 2016 film directed by Dan Trachtenberg, offers its protagonist no such luxury. 

When Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes to find herself bleeding, missing clothes, and handcuffed in place with an IV in her arm, it’s easy to assume that you’re about to watch the latest instalment of the Saw franchise. What follows instead is a psychological thriller that tackles the end of the world from the perspective of someone who isn’t convinced it happened.

Howard (John Goodman) claims to have rescued Michelle from the wreckage of a car crash and brought her to his underground bunker to escape a possible nuclear attack. Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), a man similar in age to Michelle and seemingly less mentally unstable, supports this claim, much to Michelle’s surprise. However, as the three spend more time together underground, their trust for one another begins to unravel.

Goodman is fantastic in a role that blends Roseanne’s Dan Conner with Breaking Bad’s Walter White. Viewers will find themselves struggling to decide whether Howard’s intentions are pure, and will likely leave the cinema still wrestling with the question. Winstead and Gallagher Jr. put in exceptional performances of their own and throughout the film developed real, yet appropriately restrained, chemistry.

Trachtenberg does an outstanding job of making the viewer feel as uncomfortable as his characters, and there are some scenes that are downright difficult to watch. While the film takes a more ‘psychologically confronting’ approach, there is a sufficient amount of physical brutality considering the apocalyptic setting.

Although music was used well for the most part and offered good auditory clues as to the atmosphere underground, it did lessen the impact of some potentially enthralling scenes. This was the only shortfall of the movie, and a very minor one at that.

Overall, the film was consistently gripping, appropriately savage, and surprisingly funny. The suspense that pervaded even the most mundane scenes ensured its 103 minute run time was barely perceivable. Enough questions were raised to leave viewers desperate for more, and enough were answered to prevent them leaving with a bitter taste in their mouth. All in all an incredibly enjoyable movie.

- David Tate

Movie Details

Title: 10 Cloverfield Lane
Director: Dan Trachtenberg