McCoy on Movies: 10 Cloverfield Lane

McCoy on Movies: 10 Cloverfield Lane

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It’s the unexpected, mysterious companion-kind-of-a-sequel to 2008’s Cloverfield. But is 10 Cloverfield Lane surrounded in mystery because it’s awful or awfully good? Click here to find out!


“So, the plan for the actual last season of Roseanne was – wait, you’re not Becky!” Howard (John Goodman) and Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) share a moment beneath the surface in a scene from 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE. Credit: Michele K. Short © 2016 Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved. 

KEY CAST MEMBERS: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and John Gallagher, Jr.

WRITER(S): Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken and Damien Chazelle (screenplay); Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken (story)DIRECTOR(S): Dan Trachtenberg


60 SECOND PLOT SUMMARY (OR AS CLOSE TO THAT TIME AS ONE CAN MAKE IT): A companion to 2008’s hit “scramble cam” sci-fi/horror/monster movie Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle. Who is Michelle? She is an engaged Louisiana resident who is less than happy with her boyfriend Ben (to put it mildly). That’s why she has split and hit the road heading north … At least she was heading north until she is involved in a major car accident leaving her red Jetta turned upside in the middle of a field.

As you might imagine, Michelle is a bit distraught as a result of the crash – but not as distraught as she is when she wakes up to find herself chained at the knee to a wall with a mysterious IV in her arm. This is when she eventually meets Howard (John Goodman). Who is Howard? Well, he’s the former Navy satellite specialist who has built a doomsday bunker with help from Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.) to deal with the potential end of the world threat he’s long suspected will one day happen. And that’s when Howard and Emmett deliver the bad news to Michelle that there has been an attack on the United States and pretty much everyone she ever knew outside is dead. 

But as scared and frightened as she was once she woke up in Howard’s bunker, she has no idea of what lies ahead. For as the film’s poster says, “monsters come in many forms” …

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? John Goodman fans; Mary Elizabeth Winstead fans; fans of 1970s low budget thrillers where story and performance were more important than special effects; people looking for a thriller in a market flooded with a lot of the same type of movie

WHO WON’T (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? People expecting something exactly like the first Cloverfield film; those who find the story tense but too predictable 

SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? A film that is a slow burn homage to monster/claustrophobia films of days gone by, 10 Cloverfield Lane is an extremely tense, smart and well-acted old school thriller that proves when done right, there is still some life left in a monster movie – especially when you’re not sure who the bigger monster is.

Now, if you skewer Lane with a fine-toothed comb, there is a LOT of foreshadowing that, depending on how closely you pay attention, could put a damper on your overall enjoyment of the film. However, thanks to strong performances on the part of Howard and Goodman, you likely won’t mind so much as they work so well together that their weird father/daughter-or-is-it-pervert/captive-or-perhaps-even-man trying to make up for some crazy past incident/woman who isn’t sure who to trust but maybe he’s not a psychopath interactions will keep you enthralled. This is slow burn theater where each scene is like a someone slowly poking a bear before the bear goes mad. 

It’s hard to truly articulate just how well Winstead and Goodman enact their roles, for seeing is truly believing. Whereas Winstead starts out following the typical tropes of a young white woman in distress in a situation with no way out, she progresses and grows her character into a very capable and formidable figure. Goodman, however, gets a chance to shine in playing against pretty much almost every type he’s known for by bringing the perfect mix of a creepy yet disarming until he is absolutely alarming physical presence. But in playing Howard as a man who may actually know more than he lets on but believes everything he is doing is not only right but necessary, Goodman delivers the type of performance that should be considered for an acting award even though the genre of the film virtually guarantees he never will be. None of this is designed to serve as a slight to Gallagher, Jr., mind you as he serves as a terrific bridge between Goodman and Winstead’s characters and the drama/danger that surrounds them all as the well-meaning but possibly too naive for his own good guy in the middle.

Saying much more would ruin the fun of the film; of course, in a world where The Walking Dead has delivered end-of-the-world devastation to millions on a weekly basis, 10 Cloverfield Lane may not be the scariest flick on the block, but it might be the best. It’s 90-plus minutes of intense, well-paced and even better performed tension with (thankfully) no gimmicky, shaky camera action to be found.