In a follow up to the success of Cloverfield (2008), 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) is a loose sequel set in the world of an alien invasion. This film disregards the found footage style, focusing for the most part on mysterious character of Howard, played by John Goodman. 10 Cloverfield Lane becomes a study of the claustrophobia and the ticking time bomb of the characters trapped in the bunker together, away from the chaos of the world.
The film begins with the character of Michelle, escaping her life in search of freedom, but instead being involved in a car crash and becoming more trapped than she could have ever imagined. The beginning of the film becomes a sequence of Michelle’s confusion and distrust of Howard, the cinematography and the use of sound in particular intensifying her desperation to escape. The film’s deviation from a traditional Hollywood apocalyptic film is displayed through the section in the bunker, as the pacing of the film is drawn out in order to reflect the mundane reality of their situation. The characters of Michelle and Emmett seem to succumb to Stockholm syndrome as they forget the mental instability of Howard. Their life in the bunker in provides an intriguing happy ignorance to the horrors seen in the outside world, through the use of upbeat music. The character of Howard embodies the crazed survivalist throughout, maintaining his bunker through obsessive and aggressive behaviour. As a result of the twists and turns in the narrative the characters effectively show an engaging and realistic depiction of humanity in such a panicked situation. Desperately trying to switch off from the worlds problems by immersing themselves in a fantasy world. The bunker becomes a fantasy world, dressed up by Howard to appear homely amongst a world of unknown chaos. In this sense the film effectively portrays a unique tale amongst apocalyptic films.
The unfortunate downfall of the film however, comes when the fantasy world of the bunker is gone, as Tratchenberg seems to slip back into the overblown Hollywood picture of an alien invasion. The film transitions from realistically creating DIY gas masks and protective suits to utilizing overblown CGI. This shows a complete deviation from the intense and captivating realism in the bunker, as suddenly the world was difficult to portray realistically. This ending seems to make way for an obvious sequel and does not add much to the previous plot of speculation and mystery. This is a disappointing deviation from the well-crafted thriller that the film is for the most part. However, although the final section of the film exemplifies the overblown and unrealistic path alien invasion films can stray towards, the first section of the film acts as a film of its own with captivating tension and characters. 10 Cloverfield Lane places an audience member in the confines of the bunker with Michelle, and the intensity of the on-going mystery of Howard’s persona is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Personal summary – If you’re looking for an alternative to the usual dramatic formula of the apocalyptic film then the 85% of this film is for you, John Goodman’s character is a true paranoid psychotic.