Beware: 10 Cloverfield Lane has the ability to push your panic button without warning!

Published: March 29, 2016
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Even though the movie centres on only three characters in an underground shelter, the story is compelling enough to keep your eyes wide open.

The movie 10 Cloverfield Lane will capture your attention right from the very start, a feature we normally experience in movies directed by JJ Abrams; although he has only produced this one. You will instantly relate to the life changing events Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) faces, without knowing what led to her being locked inside a bunker with two men, Howard Stambler (John Goodman) and Emmett DeWitt (John Gallagher Jr).

Her last memories were of her driving a car and colliding into something, followed by waking up in a bunker with her leg chained to a wall. Will these men kill her before she escapes? Why are they in the bunker? The sheer curiosity regarding both men will keep you absolutely glued to the screen during the first half of the movie. And in the second half, the mysteries only grow to a great extent.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Photo: Screenshot

Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman.
Photo: Screenshot

The two men convinced Michelle that a deadly virus has plagued the city. Yet had there been a deadly virus, why had they chained her leg to the cinder block?

While watching the movie I was wondering if it has any connection with Cloverfield (2008). And later I realised that 10 Cloverfield Lane carries the same essence as Cloverfield, but that’s about it.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr.
Photo: Screenshot

Although the movie focuses on only three characters in an underground shelter, the story is still compelling enough to keep your eyes wide open. John Goodman’s character of Howard Stambler will keep you hooked, as he plays the role extremely well, despite the fact that Michelle is the protagonist.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman.
Photo: Screenshot

Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman.
Photo: Screenshot

The dialogues during certain scenes remain minimal, while their facial expressions and gestures keep you anticipating what’s coming next. Even the slight raise of an eyebrow will lead to a shocking scene.

A conspiracy theory buff and someone whose perspectives about the unknown changes by the minute – claims to know what will happen next. Goodman’s character shows two extremes; at some points he is calm as the sea before a storm and then he takes the form of a furious tsunami.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr.
Photo: Screenshot

The action sequence mounts after a few scenes of suspense that builds with events unfolding outside the bunker. The characters sense relief once they are assured that the external disturbances has subsided, only to enter another phase of stress.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Photo: Screenshot

The bunker is equipped with the necessities of life including proper lighting, a sitting room, a dining room and a music player. Even in such an intense scenario, the director and the screenwriter managed to include music along with light humour to ease off the mounting tension. What this does, however, is that it pushes the panic button without warning.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr.
Photo: Screenshot

Dan Trachtenberg did a fantastic job in his directorial debut. And JJ Abram at the helm of production, has flaunted his signature style of mystery throughout the movie.

Dan Trachtenberg.
Photo: IMDb

On the downside, 10 Cloverfield Lane may not have the brilliance of Cloverfield for obvious reasons. The latter was a first-person narrative shot in the open with a giant monster terrorising the city. Having said that, 10 Cloverfield Lane does bring to screen the intimidating inscrutabilities that sends your mind jumping to many possible conclusions – even in the safety of a bunker.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr.
Photo: Screenshot

Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Photo: Screenshot

With the suspense growing by the minute, Michelle eventually finds out the truth. The audience only have their instincts to make assumptions. Is there an alien invasion? Is it a war? Is it a chemical warfare or a nuclear attack? The curiosity rises to extreme levels, as the three characters try to figure out the truth by the sounds they hear on the outside; of vehicles, helicopters and footsteps.

Throughout the movie, Howard and Emmett give their narratives as to what they think is manifesting above them.

Later, one of them dies.

How?

Can’t tell ya’.

The answer will be a spoiler.

Michelle tries to escape the bunker despite one of the men’s efforts to keep her inside. However, she falls short in her steps once she witnesses reality through the door’s thick glass.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Photo: Screenshot

Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Photo: Screenshot

Were the men being honest with Michelle about the dangers prowling outside the bunker? Will she be able to handle the truth? Will she be able to face whatever it is outside the bunker?

You will get these answers, but not before watching the movie.

The movie could have ended in a better way. It leaves you with a myriad of questions. The last few seconds reveal the big truth. Overall, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a movie you should watch in the cinema with lots of popcorn and soda by your side. In case you watch it at home, keep the lights turned on, for fear will grip you without caution.

muhammad.omar.iftikhar

Muhammad Omar Iftikhar

The author is a freelance writer and blogger and writes for various English dailies of Pakistan. He tweets @omariftikhar (twitter.com/omariftikhar)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.