A new style of post-apocalyptic thriller

Teri Black, Staff Writer

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10 Cloverfield Lane is a different take on the post-apocalyptic genre. The movie requires the viewer to make educated guesses before the truth is told, although sometimes it is not told at all. The film’s vagueness may be a turnoff for some people; however, some may say it makes the movie unique.

Beginning with a dramatic break-up scene, the first five minutes does not lead one to believe the last five will be filled with action. The main character, Michelle, is introduced, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Nothing is revealed about her until a while later in the movie, and this is somewhat of a drawback; all three main characters remain elusive throughout the film.

After a car crash, Michelle wakes up in a bunker, recuperating from her injuries. Howard (John Goodman) alerts her that there has been some sort of attack which killed most of the human population and rendered the air poisonous. He saved her life he attests, and therefore she should be thankful. The next character who is introduced is Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.), a young man who helped build the bunker they are all living in. Although he worked with Howard for years constructing the bunker, even he does not know much about the strange ex-Navy man. Michelle does not believe the world came under attack and she makes a daring attempt to escape, although through her efforts she only finds out the two men were right.

For a while, things go smoothly between the three. Their days are filled with board games and old jukebox music. But then Michelle and Emmett make a startling discovery and the idea of escape becomes much more appealing than staying in the bunker with Howard. Secretly they plan to steal Howard’s gun and incapacitate him while the other goes outside in search of help. Using shower curtains and duct tape, the pair create their own gas masks and HAZMAT suits to brave the supposedly toxic air outside. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Upon escaping, Michelle faces the reality of the situation: the attack that rendered the air poisonous and knocked out all communications did not come from any nation on earth.

10 Cloverfield Lane is different in its use of visual cues instead of dialogue. While there are conversations and confrontations, many of the key elements of the story are hidden around the bunker. Another unique aspect is its realistic portrayal of a heroine. Michelle operates like most women in her situation would, never running away in high heeled shoes and always skeptical of what both Howard and Emmett tell her. Of all the characters, Winstead’s Michelle seems to be the deepest and most realistic. Gallagher, Jr.’s character Emmett sometimes seems like an afterthought, and while his role helps to forward a large part of the plot, it does not seem crucial. Scenes where he relays things about his life to Michelle appear to be slapped into the story to make sure the audience does not see him as unneeded. Goodman’s character also seems one-sided and not many things are known about him by the end of the movie. When one question is answered, another shows up.

All in all, 10 Cloverfield Lane is an interesting post-apocalyptic thriller with most of the scenes shot in the five rooms of an underground bunker. While it may sound boring, the amount of intrigue thrown between three characters is astonishing, and the director, Dan Trachtenberg, should be applauded for the levels of variety in a tiny amount of scenery. Fans of psychological thrillers will enjoy this movie even though many questions are left open when the credits start to roll.

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