Sunday, June 12, 2016

Video review: "10 Cloverfield Lane"

“10 Cloverfield Lane” was a mystery wrapped in an enigma slathered with clever marketing. A low-budget sci-fi/thriller that began as an original story about people trapped in an underground bunker, it morphed into a sorta-sequel to “Cloverfield,” a successful 2008 monsters-from-space flick produced by J.J. Abrams.

If you’re looking for continuity between the two cinematic universes, keep looking. But as a standalone piece of filmmaking, it’s decently engrossing.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Michelle, a woman going through personal turmoil right as the Earth seems to be experiencing some cataclysmic troubles she hears about on her car radio. Then a truck runs her off the road, she’s knocked out and wakes up in a creepy cellar.

The proprietor is Howard (John Goodman), a twitchy conspiracy theory sort who built the elaborate bunker in fear of Russian/Chinese attacks. As far as he’s concerned, that’s what has happened, and the poisonous air (he says) will be unbreathable for at least a year or two. So the three of them – John Gallagher Jr. plays Howard’s dimwitted wingman – have to just settle in for the long haul.

Things grow more tense as the days pass, with Howard attempting to assert patriarchal control over their little ersatz family. Michelle’s skepticism about Howard’s story festers, leading to escape attempts and confrontations.

It’s a fun movie to watch, even as you can hear the gears of the storytelling process grinding away. “10 Cloverfield Lane” contains few surprises, but it does what it does well enough.

Bonus features are a little skimpy; the DVD contains exactly none. The Blu-ray version has a feature-length commentary track by director Dan Trachtenberg and Abrams plus 30 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage from the production.



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