Posted on Wednesday, March 9th, 2016 by Jack Giroux
There has been plenty of mystery surrounding Dan Trachtenberg‘s feature directorial debut, 10 Cloverfield Lane. The first trailer revealed the project is related to Matt Reeves‘ found footage monster film, but producer J.J. Abrams has clarified it’s not a direct sequel. We’ll soon learn how much 10 Cloverfield Lane shares in common with Cloverfield, considering the film opens in theaters this weekend. Early reviews for the thriller have hit the web, and much to our delight, they’re all very positive thus far.
You might want to be careful reading some of these reviews. With the exception of Variety’s write up, most critics have been careful not to reveal too many plot details. If you want to stay completely in the dark on the film, then maybe you should hold off on reading these reviews, but none of the excerpts below feature any real spoilers.
First up, here’s what our own Angie Han had to say about it:
10 Cloverfield Lane is an auspicious debut for Dan Trachtenberg. Cloverfield fans should know the films have almost nothing to do with each other on a narrative level, but both fit into the same mold of “elevated genre” pictures. The tiny three-person cast deserves tons of credit for making 10 Cloverfield Lane more than a generic thriller. The usually lovable John Goodman is believably frightening as Howard, a portrait of paternalism gone awry, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead brings a keen intelligence to the film’s thoughtful spin on the “final girl” trope.
Meticulous production design and an engaging script (by Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, and Damien Chazelle) add loads of personality to the tiny universe of Howard’s bunker, and top-notch sound design puts the audience right in there with them. In a release calendar clogged with bloated nine-figure blockbusters, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a taut three-hander that’s exactly as big as it needs to be.
Here’s the 10 Cloverfield Lane early buzz:
Directed by first-timer Dan Trachtenberg, 10 Cloverfield Lane is, in Abrams’ words, a “spiritual successor” to Matt Reeves’ unusually gripping 2008 monster movie, rather than a literal sequel. Any disclaimers seem unlikely to assuage longstanding expectations for a follow-up, especially since promos for the film clearly hint at something otherworldly overshadowing the narrative. Trachtenberg favors a slow build getting to the final reveal, however, and although some may miss the immediacy of a rampaging kaiju destroying everything in its path, this is an entirely different breed of movie that’s potentially even more effective for its shift in style and tone.
Even if this tale might have been better served as a 40-minute short than as a full-length movie, first-time feature director Dan Trachtenberg has cast a trio of actors at the top of their game, and they elevate the material. It’s not easy to engender audience empathy while at the same time keeping viewers guessing as to a character’s true motivations, but these performers skillfully multi-task the script by newcomers Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken, which got a rewrite by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash).
If Cloverfield assaulted our eyes with seesawing, visceral, found-footage thrills, and our ears with the deafening roar of streaking jets and collapsing skyscrapers, 10 Cloverfield Lane is all about pregnant stillness and screaming silence. Trachtenberg is far more traditional in his filmmaking and suspense techniques, right down to the stabbing strings of Bear McCreary’s Bernard Herrmann-esque score, and here delivers a chilling chamber piece in which a bellowed word or a fist thumped down on a table can impact like the Statue Of Liberty’s head bouncing down a Manhattan street.
Abrams’ latest film, the quasi-/semi-/kinda-/not really-sequel to 2008’s Cloverfield is a decent enough rug. But it’s not a great one. It’s like a solid Twilight Zone episode or second-tier M. Night Shyamalan movie like Signs. It’s lean, and taut, and tense, and moves with Swiss-clock precision. Still, it’s not as scary as you want it to be. Honestly, the best thing about it may be its buzz-building top-secret tease of a marketing campaign.
There are many similarities to his short-film ‘Portal’ in 10CL but it’s the use of music and sound which Trachtenberg utilises so perfectly. The first 10 minutes barely has any dialogue, and is filled with portentous sound effects and music, building tension constantly. He continues this throughout, constantly using music to change the direction of the story.
Watching Cloverfield, the 2007 found-footage disaster movie about an alien invader on the streets of New York, it was hard to root for human characters who generally seemed bent on taking the stupidest course of action possible, and recording their stupidity for future generations to witness. But boy, do you root for Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the far-from-stupid young woman trapped in an underground bunker in 10 Cloverfield Lane, a sensationally effective semi-sequel that bears virtually no narrative or stylistic resemblance to its predecessor.
Ignore the nudge-nudging about a movie that came out eight years ago and it’s not that hard to see 10 Cloverfield Lane for what it is: a crackerjack exercise not just in genre but genres, with exacting direction, three great performances and a genuine respect for audience patience, intelligence and willingness to be go with a story that drags you hither and thither.
10 Cloverfield Lane currently has nothing but positive reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes. Soon we’ll see more opinions appear online, but Dan Trachtenberg’s semi-sequel is off to a great start with the critics, who are praising the director’s eye for tension and the three central performances. If the film is as thrilling as some of these reviews suggest, even some of the less enthusiastic ones, then both unsuspecting audiences and Cloverfield fans are in for a treat this weekend.Cool Posts From Around the Web: