“10 Cloverfield Lane”, directed by Dan Trachtenberg, from “Bad Robot” indeed is pretty much a “Cloverfield II” (see my “cf” blog, Jan. 18, 2008). The tagline “Monsters come in many forms” is pretty much a spoiler, if that matters. The earlier film has been original in being shot at street level with handheld cameras. Not this time.
As the movie opens, a young woman (and, apparently, a nurse) Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) puts down her car keys and engagement ring on a counter in a posh apartment on the Mississippi River in New Orleans. The TV plays a story about massive unexplained power failures in the southeast, that haven’t yet reached Louisiana.
She takes her phone and races west, and then north of Lake Charles into the woods at night, trying desperately to reach her fiancée (voice over by Bradley Cooper). Suddenly, she finds her car catapulted into a ditch and rolling over in a high impact collision as the opening titles play.
Then she wakes up in a storm cellar. Soon, her captor Howard (John Goodman) is telling her he is a doomsday prepper, and that he had rescued her from a major terrorist attack. It is unsafe to go outside, as everything is contaminated, by nuclear or chemical fallout. This is more than just an NRA survivalist Second Amendment setting on steroids.
It’s odd that a major studio (Paramount) Imax movie spends so much screen time in an underground bunker, although it opens up a little, as Howard’s quarters are reasonably nice and interesting. Potty breaks are rationed, as is food, a year’s supply. A young man, Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr,) is staying there, too.
In time, the complications come. Michelle tries to “escape” and sees a desperate woman trying to bang her way in. We become convinced that Howard is for real, and not just a sex pervert kidnapping women (like in the 1964 movie “The Collector”, or 1993’s “Boxing Helena”, or in “The Room” for that matter). Conflict with the young man comes, when Howard says “I accept your apology” and takes action.
The denouement comes, and the director’s vision of the aliens is interesting, if a little overblown.
I was wondering, isn’t it more interesting to conceive a movie where the protagonist wakes up after being abducted, on a space station? By that’s my own scenario in “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany”.
One thing about the power outage. If it had been caused by an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) blast (a likely alien weapon), most cars would not start at all, although some older cars with no electronic ignition would work.
One aspect of the plot is that for much of her stay, Michelle doesn't know if the disaster outside is real or a ploy by Howard. In my own "Epiphany", the protagonist (me) is not sure if he is even alive, at a job interview, on a space station, or was abducted by aliens. Gradually he sneaks in some Internet connectivity and figures out what is happening. (There will be Facebook on Titan, after all -- just a 69 minute delay.)
The official site is here.
I saw the film Monday afternoon in a large screen at Regal Ballston Common, scant audience.
Picture: Mine, early 2006, N,O, canal after Katrina