Debuting with an astounding 90% Certified Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes (77% if your more into the Metacritic score), and $1.8 million in sales at the box office in it’s first day, 10 Cloverfield Lane is off to an impressive start. After obsessing over it’s teaser trailer for a month now, we finally had our chance to bask in 103 minutes of tense, nerve-racking, awesomeness.
Getting right to it; This is literally the scariest movie I’ve seen all year. I know, it’s only early March and we still have 10 months of cinema to struggle through before we give anyone an award, but you are seriously underestimating just how may horror movies a person with subscriptions to every streaming service can watch on a weekly basis. Last Tuesday, I sat next to a woman who had a visceral reaction to several scenes in the The Witch, but nothing compared to the moments in 10 Cloverfield Lane where I had no other choice but to stare at my feet to catch my breath before pressing on.
I even made the mistake of seeing this movie in UltraAVX. Normally reserved for big budget blockbusters with booms and vrooms, if given the option, I will only see horror/thriller flicks in this format from now on. The only thing more terrifying than silence in a movie centered around uncertainty are those heart-stopping moments when something cuts through to remind you how close you are to cardiac arrest at any moment. There were entire sections in this film that made me genuinely concerned for my own well being, using all my internal strength to stay in my seat and make friends with my Fight-or-Flight response.
There’s been some debate online about how this film stands as a traditional sequel but after reading interviews with director Dan Trachtenberg, addressing concerns that the story was “shoe-horned” into the Cloverfield universe, I forced myself to take a step back and ask what it was about the first Cloverfield that I found so fascinating.
Like it’s predecessor, 10 Cloverfield Lane has no interest in showing you how a single event effects the world at large. There are no scenes in The War Room with the president and various military officials determining an action plan to tackle this threat. There are no outside characters we cut to for reactions or emotional elevation. We have no idea if anyone (other than the audience) is rooting for your heroes to make it out alive. We are alone with them, crawling and clawing our way toward the surface and out into the light.
The Cloverfield films only concern is our characters. We don’t care about the rest of New York City, we just want to see Rob and the squad rescue Beth before the monster pulls her out a window and climbs the Empire State Building. In the same way that we all have stories about where we were when the World Trade Centre was attacked, each of the characters in this universe has there own personal struggle against an event that shaped the world around them. Some watched it unfold from home in their pajamas, but some had to fight tooth and nail to survive underground with an unstable maniac that thought you were as dangerous to him as the air outside. And that’s what I love about these movies! Each is it’s own self contained story with a similar thread, but should be seen as separate pieces to a larger tapestry that anthologizes a common struggle against unstoppable forces.
I do have some thoughts on a few nit-picky moments in the movie that don’t really take away from my overall opinion of 10 Cloverfield Lane as a whole, but I refuse to spoil anything for you. I’m the nerd that thinks we should only ever have teaser trailers before a movie is released to theaters. Just a quick impression of what to expect and then complete radio-silence until opening night. The less I know going in, the better.
Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter after seeing the film for yourself if you want to compare notes on the last 15 minutes.