10 Cloverfield Lane is a different kind of fight for survival. Although sequels to Cloverfield were discussed, I never would’ve guessed this would be the eventual follow up. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a thought provoking psychological thriller with a limited cast set in a confined space. Connecting it to J. J. Abrams’ found footage film actually happened after the fact. The original script was called The Cellar, but filmmakers felt it was too similar to the spirit of Cloverfield. I’m not sure I agree, because 10 Cloverfield Lane is almost too good for the sci-fi franchise.
The set up is almost the exact opposite with characters taking up a majority of the story and anything alien related happening closer to the end. The small cast consists of Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, and John Gallagher Jr. After leaving her boyfriend (voiced by an uncredited Bradley Cooper), Michelle ends up trapped in an underground bunker owned by a farmer named Howard. I didn’t think John Goodman could be scary, but this is one of his all time best performances as the paranoid conspiracy theorist.
He tries to convince Michelle that the air is toxic and it’s never made clear how right he is. Emmett is a more neutral third party who believes Howard’s stories, yet tries to help Michelle escape. They do develop stockholm syndrome, but the movie remains incredibly tense whether aliens are present or not. The writing is so good that I wasn’t surprised to learn Oscar winner Damien Chazelle contributed to it. Despite the title, it is a little jarring to see aliens after all the character drama. That being said, 10 Cloverfield Lane still manages to transcend genre expectations.