By: Keegan Douglass
10 Cloverfield Lane is a horror film about a man named Howard (John Goodman) who kidnaps a woman named Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and holds her in his basement, claiming that if she leaves, she will die because the air outside is contaminated.
The film’s original title was The Cellar, but was changed by producer J.J. Abrams in order to increase ticket sales by linking it to his original film Cloverfield (2008). This title change serves no purpose, other than to gain a larger audience – in other words, the film has nothing to do with Cloverfield at all, which is the first among many disappointments.
The film has a promising opening, establishing tension by repeated cuts to black and a lack of any sounds beside background music. This is, unfortunately, the only truly creative aspect of the entire film, the rest is filled with an array of poor excuses.
When Goodman appears in the beginning of the film, audiences will notice that he is attempting to alter his voice and sound like a tired drunkard, but the voice alteration comes off as completely goofy. His voice is unrealistic and audiences will hear that he is overacting.
Winstead, on the other hand, is a completely competent actress who embodies her character perfectly. She is one of the few good aspects in this film, and it is a shame that she had to waste her time on it.
Buried in the basement, there is another character, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), who gives a decent performance, but is shrouded by a cloud of poor writing and infantile direction. His character’s only purpose is to be Winstead’s love interest, making him – and the forced romance – completely one-dimensional. At one point, Gallagher performs a monologue about his life experiences, but much like his character in general, it comes off as pointless and forced, making this character simply a device to advance the “plot.”
Throughout the film, Goodman has temper tantrums, which are supposed to scare the audience, but, by the third outburst, it ceases to work. Goodman’s character is the only way the film attempts to create tension, making it completely formulaic and boring. It is easy to lose interest in the film early on because there is nothing interesting going on.
The ending is the film’s most laughable aspect, as it depicts Winstead’s character escaping from Goodman’s cellar and discovering that the world had been under attack by aliens. The second the aliens appear on screen, an entirely new film practically starts, as the tone established in the preceding two hours is completely abolished. It is like the first writer of the film died and someone else jumped in to take over.
In order to explain the film’s title, an excuse by the producer is thrown in by having Winstead hit a mailbox with her car. The camera then zooms in revealing the cellar’s address as 10 Cloverfield. This, along with the rest of the film is completely laughable.
After all the film’s faults, it deserves only one out of five stars, with that star due to Winstead’s performance. Avoid watching this film, as it is a complete waste of time and money.