By Murphy Kenefick, Columnist
A few months ago, an ominous teaser trailer for the film “10 Cloverfield Lane” came out of the clear blue. Almost completely free of dialogue, the teaser for “10 Cloverfield Lane” announced a film that acts as a sequel/prequel/spin-off to the 2008 found-footage film “Cloverfield”. With an entirely different cast and no obvious correlation to the original movie, the main intrigue to the story was the mystery that surrounded it. For that reason, it will be incredibly difficult to discuss any details since most of the appeal is due to the lack of information given by the filmmakers or studios.
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg, a first time director, “10 Cloverfield Lane” begins with a seemingly fatal car accident that leaves Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wounded in the care of Howard (John Goodman). Along with Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), Michelle is held hostage in a bunker under the suspicious claim that the outside air is tainted, and that Howard is only keeping them for their own safety. Describing the plot in any more detail would give too much away, since much of the power of the film is in its slow burn pacing. The rest of the running time is tense with paranoia, confusion and unsaid conflict that steadily grows between the three characters, who continually give the audience and each other conflicting information and motivations.
An aspect of suspense/action films that often goes unnoticed is the component of sound. In this film there are mostly silent scenes highlighted by specific noises such as the opening of a door or the drop of keys. On the opposite side of the spectrum, any scene with action (once again avoiding specifics) is explosive with overwhelming, clear sound that throws the audience directly into the crossfire in a way that defies script and performance. Being blasted by sound can be an irritating sensation, but somehow, with this film, every sequence was a powerful experience.
Aside from sound, the real effect comes with the building of suspense. This is largely a result of the excellent pace of the script and the claustrophobic direction. There is a deep root of discomfort between the characters, creating a tense environment that you simultaneously want to watch and also want to quickly leave. This feeling is very similar to the original 2008 film, in which New York City is being torn apart, seen from the perspective of a group of 20-somethings. This experience is both terrifying and fascinating, and while this year’s follow-up uses a completely different visual style, the perplexing fear remains the constant.
By the end, “10 Cloverfield Lane” is a satisfying little movie that creates an originally intriguing environment, but does not leave that much of an impact. It is a great thing to see on a Saturday evening, and in that same way, will not keep you up at night.