Whether or not you like Lost is likely going to predict how you feel about 10 Cloverfield Lane.
When it comes to television, there’s probably nothing I find myself getting into fights over more often than J.J. Abram’s Lost. For a very long time liking Lost was an identifiable part of my personality. I spent much of my free time reading Lostpedia and picking fights with strangers who hated the show. It wasn’t just dumb people I’d find myself getting into fights with, but also people I really respected. This puzzled me. How could a show that featured a knockout score, a highly original concept, a very strong ensemble, and probably one of the better characters in television history, John Locke, garner so much heat? After years of fighting with people, I have a much better understanding as to why someone wouldn’t be able to get behind the show. It basically comes down to there being two ways to watch it: for the mystery or the characters. If it’s the former, you’re likely to be disappointed. At its core, Lost is about its characters and uses mystery more as tone.
I bring all this up because whether or not you like Lost is likely going to predict how you feel about 10 Cloverfield Lane. The folks at Bad Robot (whom you surely know as the production studio behind Lost, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, both of the most recent Star Trek films, etc.) have done a lot to keep 10 Cloverfield Lane under wraps, as the film was shot in total secrecy and virtually no one knew about its existence until about two months ago. With that in mind, it’s best you don’t read any further into this review until after you’ve seen the movie. In case you are still on the fence, here are a few questions to ask yourself: Do you like Lost? Do you like character-driven thrillers? Do you like films shot in small spaces? If you answered yes to all these questions, go out and see it already! Oh, but if you’re interested in the film because it’s being called a blood-relative to Cloverfield, be warned that you’re likely to fall into the same trap as the people wanting answers from Lost. It will not satisfy you in that department, nor is it necessary to have seen Cloverfield to enjoy 10 Cloverfield Lane. In fact, I found myself wishing they hadn’t tied these two films together at all. It’s totally unnecessary and maybe even weakens the film.
If you’re still reading for a plot summary, well, I guess I have to give it to you. A young woman, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), is on the run. We aren’t exactly sure where she’s headed, but we know who she’s running from. Her boyfriend (voiced by Bradley Cooper) begs her in a voicemail to come home. “It was just a fight,” he pleads. She keeps on driving. Soon after she gets in serious car accident and wakes up to find herself chained to a bed. We soon find out it’s a man named Howard (a perfectly cast John Goodman)’s bed. Howard insists that he saved Michelle’s life when he found her on the side of the road. He explains that she’s in his underground shelter, a shelter he built in anticipation for a catastrophic event that has now happened. Howard suggests that everyone in the outside world is dead, and the air isn’t safe to breathe. If she tries to escape, she’ll die. There’s another person in this shelter, a seemingly nice guy named Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.). He explains that he actually fought his way into Howard’s shelter, but as time goes by neither Emmett nor Michelle are sure if Howard’s a madman or if it truly is the end of days.
10 Cloverfield Lane heavily relies on what has worked in past Bad Robot productions. At times, its choices are a little same-y to Lost without being as effective as the television show. For example, Michelle comes off a little bland. She plays a bit too heavily into the stereotypical J.J. Abrams type of heroine. 10 Cloverfield Lane’s choices may not be bold, but the film is very capable. The thrills are top-notch here, and there are some twists that even the most well-versed Lost fan won’t see coming. However, the last fifteen minutes really lets the air out of the film and comes off as a way to appease Cloverfield fans. I might find myself wishing that 10 Cloverfield Lane had more of its own personality, but it’s tough to hold that against a movie that works so well in regards to crafting tensions and mystery. | Cait Lore