10 Cloverfield Lane: Return to Sender

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Cloverfield John Goodman Mary Elizabeth Winstead Blu-ray

There is so much to like about 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE that I almost hate to pick on it. Dan Trachtenberg's handling of a film that, for almost its entirety, has only three players, certainly adds that feeling of isolation that is key to the plot. And John Goodman is never better than when he's playing a serious role where he's always simmering on the edge of a blowup.

For those unfamiliar with the film, here's the lowdown: Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has left her fiance and driven away. In a remote area of Louisiana, she has an accident and wakes up in an underground bunker owned by Howard (John Goodman) and also occupied by Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.). Howard tells her he saved her life and that the outside world has suffered an attack. It could be nuclear, it could be chemical -- but when he adds in that it could have been the Martians, you immediately get the sense that all is not right in Howard's head.

Michelle's dilemma is multi-part: How to escape this unstable person? What if the world up top really is uninhabitable? And if it is uninhabitable, and Howard really did save her life, is he any less insane?

The film shares the main name as its 2008 predecessor, CLOVERFIELD, directed by Matt Reeves. However, that may be all it shares, as it is unclear if there is any other connection between the two films. Those who have seen it may decide otherwise, but to delve into those kind of details ventures into the area of spoilers, as it involves discussion of the last fifteen minutes of the film.

But in regard to those crucial last moments, one has to wonder what kind of film 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE wants to be. Is it a psychological thriller? Is it a doomsday adventure? Is it a monster movie? Does it want to be all of those and more -- and can it be so successfully?

I don't think it can. It tries, but it goes into its different modes jarringly, and doesn't achieve a true blending of the genres. Worse, Michelle's character survives on coincidence, dumb luck, and elements of story that may as well have a neon sign pointing to them when you see them blinking the message "Plot Point."

To see John Goodman at his dramatic best, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is worth a watch, but not necessarily worth a buy.

Grade: 
3.5 / 5.0