Film Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane


In association with the Grosvenor

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The long-awaited sequel to 2008 cult favourite Cloverfield appeared almost out of nowhere this month, and it does not disappoint. Its connection to the original is not immediately apparent: Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) leaves her fiancé and sets off to drive across the country when she is involved in a car accident. She is knocked unconscious, and wakes up to find herself in a blank, windowless room, her leg bandaged and handcuffed to the wall. Howard (John Goodman), a gruff, short-tempered apocalypse-prepper whose worst nightmares (or dreams) seem to have come true, claims to have saved her from a deadly chemical attack, of which they and third resident of the bunker, Emmett, are the only survivors – Michelle, understandably, is sceptical.

In this sequel, the Cloverfield franchise makes a marked shift within the horror genre. The former was a shuddery found-footage affair, a kind of big-budget Blair Witch. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a claustrophobic, creeping thriller – taking place almost exclusively in Howard’s bunker, with only the three leads taking almost all of the screen time, it does a masterful job of projecting such a cramped space onto the big screen, and it’s intimacy at times feels as if it’d work just as well in the theatre.

What I found particularly interesting, although I don’t know how intentional this is, is how it relies on such a specifically female fear. That’s not to say that waking up chained to a wall in an underground bunker isn’t universally terrifying; but for women, wariness of strange men, of travelling alone at night, and of our own physical and sexual vulnerability make this a kind of horror that hits particularly close to home. It is worth noting that while Michelle wakes up in the bunker against her will, Emmett actively volunteers.

10 Cloverfield Lane is a rare thing – a successful sequel, and it succeeds by not feeling like a sequel at all. Though they are undeniably in the same universe, this doesn’t feel like a ‘part 2’ or tacked-on continuation but a genuinely new narrative, and it lives up to its predecessor for exactly this reason.

[Clare Patterson – @clurrpatterson]

 

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