tl;dr – If you are a fan of psychological horror suspense thrillers like Signs and Psycho you absolutely must see this movie, even if you didn’t like or haven’t seen the original Cloverfield, as this has practically nothing to do with that movie and is a very different style. If you loved the original Cloverfield, you will most likely love this, as long as you are not expecting a movie that continues the story of the original in any way.
First thing’s first: this was a great movie. It was NOT, however, a sequel to Cloverfield. This movie was similar to Cloverfield in many ways, just as Cloverfield was similar to the television show Lost in many ways (and likewise 10 Cloverfield Lane was also similar to Lost in many ways). What does that mean? Well, if you were expecting another piece to the puzzle of what happens in the Cloverfield story from the first movie, you aren’t going to get one (though there may be hope for that in the future). If you are expecting a J.J. Abrams-produced psychological mystery where you wonder exactly what the crap is actually happening both during and after the movie (one again, much like Lost and Cloverfield) then you are in for a supreme treat.
Let’s address another major elephant in the room: the original Cloverfield was a very polarizing film. There were a lot of people (myself included) who absolutely loved it, and there were a lot of people who despised it (I had one friend who, at the time of its release, said it was the worst movie she had ever seen). I’m almost certain that this film will NOT be nearly as polarizing, for two major reasons: it’s not filmed in the “found footage” style used in the first film (10 Cloverfield Lane is filmed just like any other movie with multiple camera angles, and even has a musical score, unlike the first film, which did not), and because it has much more closure than the first film. At the end of the original Cloverfield you knew almost nothing – did the characters survive? What happens next? What even is the monster and where did it come from? 10 Cloverfield Lane has two main storylines: what’s happening inside the bunker and what’s happening outside the bunker. The “inside” story serves the main plot of film while the “outside” story adds an extra layer of suspense and mystery. I’ll just say this without getting into any spoilers: the “inside” storyline gets pretty much resolved by the end of the movie with very few loose ends. The “outside” story is rather unresolved by the end, but it is still has MUCH more resolution than the ending of the original Cloverfield. In fact, I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much resolution the “outside” story got.
So what exactly did I like about this film? So much. First, the acting is incredible. There is at least one critic who thinks John Goodman’s performance was Oscar worthy. While I will make no claims as to who does or does not deserve an Oscar-nomination, I do feel that any familiarity with John Goodman gets completely lost within his role. I won’t spoil what he is able to pull off with his acting, but I will say that I completely believed his performance. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is also great as the lead, and she is completely unrecognizable from her role as Ramona in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (which I believe is the only other film I’ve seen her in). Likewise, the story is incredible. I haven’t felt this much suspense while watching a movie in a long time. Like other films I’ve mentioned above (Psycho and Signs, two of my all-time favorites), this film keeps you guessing as to the true nature of the events right up until the end. And just like its spiritual successors Cloverfield and Lost, 10 Cloverfield Lane will leave you thirsty for more when the end credits roll.
My only minor complaint about the film is that Michael Giacchino did not do the music. That might sound weird, but producer J.J. Abrams frequently collaborates with Giacchino and he is, in my opinion, a musical genius. When we begin hearing score literally the instant the film begins, I was really hoping to get an awesome Giacchino score. When the music turned out to be unremarkable, I wasn’t surprised to see a name other than Giacchino’s in the credits. Nothing against Bear McCreary, but I just think Giacchino is a better composer and I wonder if the score would have been more moving if he had composed it.
As for the important question of “did I like this better than the original Cloverfield?” I’m not sure. While I think 10 Cloverfield Lane may technically be a more artistically crafted movie from a filmmaking point of view, I think I may have enjoyed Cloverfield more. In other words, this may technically be a better movie, but I think I had more fun watching the original one.
Let me know what you think in the comments below, and be sure to warn others of any potential SPOILERS! Also, please share this if you enjoyed my review!