Through social media I heard that John Goodman’s performance in 10 Cloverfield Lane was something to be marveled. I checked the reviews – most of them had glowing headlines and started off by warning readers that the review would not contain much plot description as that would ruin the experience of the film. Well the same warning goes here as the rest of this piece will contain major spoilers – but I might argue that the biggest one is right there in the title:
I came at this film not having watched the original Cloverfield and knowing pretty much nothing about the film. I didn’t follow the press leading up to it – I even admitted as much to the ticket guy at the movie theater when he asked me if I was excited to see the film. I had no idea what was going to happen except the basic premise… and that it was connected to Cloverfield.
And that, when reflecting on the film, was a problem.
The dramatic tension of the film rests on the question of whether or not John Goodman’s character in the film is lying about what’s going on outside of the bunker. Is Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) being held captive or is she really being kept safe from the terror above. Unfortunately because we know it’s a Cloverfield movie, we know the latter is the truth. John Goodman’s character is still a monster in his own right, but the big finale sequence involving the alien monster doesn’t feel like a shocking twist but rather the payoff we expected from the title.
The film was adapted from an original script titled The Cellar – which I’m guessing was never originally tied to the Cloverfield universe. Judging by the loglines, the truth about what’s going on outside the bunker was meant to be a mystery and a source of dramatic tension. That tension doesn’t exist here.
But of course not being tied to a big name like Cloverfield would probably have scored the film $100 million less in box office sales. So I get why they drew the link. And I also realize that people have been tracking this film in the news as a Cloverfield successor so there’s really no way to hide that fact. But maybe this story wasn’t the right fit for the franchise.
Now reading this far, you might have gotten the impression that I didn’t like 10 Cloverfield Lane and that is far from true. I found it a very well crafted film which moved briskly apart from dialogue scene between Michelle and the Emmitt which I thought was just too slow and expository (I really was ready to nod off on that one which I can’t say about every other scene).
I really enjoyed 10 Cloverfield Lane, but I can’t help but wonder if I would have enjoyed it more had I not known what would be on the other side of the bunker door.