10 Cloverfield Lane

By: Kevin Jordan

Inception-y horror.

Raise your hand if you knew this movie was coming.  Ok, everyone not involved in the making of this movie, raise your hand.  That’s what I thought; me either, and I know about most movies well before you.  I found out about it maybe two weeks ago when the first trailer was released and my reaction was “wait, when did J.J. Abrams have time to produce another movie while doing Star Wars?”  My next reaction (because I’m a nerd) was “another Cloverfield movie?  Niiiice.”  Then, I watched the trailer and, as is typical with Abrams’ movies, learned just enough to think “Niiiice.”

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There are plenty of things to admire and like about Abrams, but my personal favorite is how good the trailers are for his movies.  Most movie trailers ruin 80% of the film or they completely lie about what the movie is actually about.  Abrams does no such thing, instead, choosing to tease the viewer and raise questions that in the viewer’s mind that must be answered.  In the case of 10 Cloverfield Lane, the trailer shows three people (John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher, Jr.) in a bunker doing trivial things – reading, assembling puzzles, and listening to music.  Then, things start to turn dark with shaking, fires, pointy sticks, handcuffs, and terrified glances.  Finally, Winstead whacks Goodman in the head with a bottle and bolts for the door, getting through the first door (it’s two doors creating a homemade airlock) and locking it before Goodman can reach her.  As she looks out the window, Goodman is screaming at her not to open the door and we see her cover her mouth in horror and…fade to movie title.  Dude.

Now, because we saw Cloverfield (if you didn’t see Cloverfield, what are you doing here?), we have a basic idea why they are in the bunker – rampaging monsters that may or may not be aliens.  After that, nothing.  From the one minute and forty-four second trailer this was what went through my head:

They seem like a family; they’re making the best of a shitty situation; oh there’s John Goodman’s ass dancing in front of a juke box.  (Rumble, rumble) That would be the monsters.  Wait, why does Winstead look terrified of Goodman?  Who’s in the handcuffs?  What’s in the air duct?  FIRE!  Goodman’s little pistol and a sharpened stick are not going to kill those monsters.  Do they have a plan?  Are they all going to die?  Holy shit – she just whacked Goodman with a bottle and made a break for the door?  What the hell is happening here!?  I thought they were a family?  Goodman’s right – don’t go out there!!  Oh my god – what does she see!  (Title screen)  NOOO!! …….. when does this movie open?!?!

Now that is how you make a trailer.  Incidentally, 10 Cloverfield Lane is also how you make a horror movie.  Unlike most horror flicks, 10 Cloverfield Lane doesn’t stoop to cheap tricks like gory deaths or making things jump into the screen.  It uses actual writing and film elements to scare you and make you tense throughout.  It’s a cross between a whole lot of Misery sprinkled with some, well, Cloverfield.  There are genuine moments that shock you because you really weren’t expecting THAT to happen.  In short, it’s a horror movie inside a completely different horror movie.

I’d see any Abrams movie, so I might be a little biased in saying that this movie is definitely worth the price of admission.  But, even if you aren’t an Abrams fan, you almost have to be a John Goodman fan.  Winstead and Gallagher are both good, but Goodman brings his A-game.  As the subplot of “who is he” unfolds, you won’t know what to think.  Is he good, bad, crazy in an innocent way, or crazy in a Hand that Rocks the Cradle kind of way?  Regardless, you will enjoy his character because Goodman was that – uhh – GOOD.

Like the trailer, I’m keeping this short and not giving away too much.  If you’re an Abrams fan and seen his movies, then you know he can’t resist giving you at least a peak at the monster under the bed.  Whether that monster is Goodman or something outside, you’ll just have to watch the movie to find out.

Rating: Don’t ask for any money back.  Remember this movie when you’re NOT being scared later in the year by movies like The Purge 3.