10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

I never got a chance to write about it and I did watch the original Cloverfield and rather liked it. I stayed away from this one at first because horror film sequels never turn out well. But then I heard that this is a sequel in name only and actually does some pretty interesting things so I thought I’d check it out.

Michelle is fleeing from a relationship when her car gets involved in an accident and she is knocked unconscious. When she wakes up, she finds herself chained on a mattress in a concrete room. Her captor introduces himself as Howard and tells her that he saved her life and she should be grateful. Despite what it looks like he claims to have no nefarious motives. She learns that her room is part of an extensive underground bunker and that another man named Emmett is also in residence. He confirms Howard’s seemingly ridiculous story that there has been an attack and that everyone topside is dead due to some kind of contamination. Being skeptical, Michelle manages to wrest the keys from Howard during one dinner and tries to escape through the airlock he has shown her. To her shock, she finds another woman with lesions all over her skin on the outside begging to be let in.

Having heard a bit about the film on Broken Forum, I wasn’t too surprised by what kind of film it is. As I’m playing Fallout 4 at the moment, I was amused by it being basically a portrayal of life inside a vault, albeit a small one, complete with a tyrannical overseer. It’s obvious that whoever wrote it spent some time working out all of the details about the actual logistics of such a bunker and it’s rather fascinating to see that. Thematically, the film works decently well as a psychological thriller as Michelle oscillates over whether or not to believe in Howard’s ever more outlandish conspiracy theories. Still, the Cloverfield tie-in is enough to tell the audience that there must be some kind of monster out there so it’s not like there’s ever much doubt over it. Then there’s the fact that however well they handle the plight of a young woman trapped in a madman’s dungeon, there’s no way that this film could ever match what Room has already achieved.

I was also irked by how the film completely change genres in the last third or so. It’s different, yes, and empowered female characters are in fashion at the moment, but the transition is abrupt and frankly not very believable as Michelle proves competent enough to be a threat even to the monsters with improvised weapons. As my wife noted, it would be tonally more appropriate to have Michelle confront the monster and then end the film there. Overall I found this to be entertaining and it manages not to be dumb but it’s not a serious film and not anything to write home about.

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