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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Thoughts on 10 Cloverfield Lane

I really enjoyed seeing 10 Cloverfield Lane, a film directed by Dan Tratchenburg. I found it to be very intense and riveting. I went to see it because I saw that it was about a woman trying to escape from being held captive in a bomb shelter by a conspiracy theorist paranoid about a nuclear or alien attack above, and it starred two actors I really respect: John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

The film was very tight and captivating to watch, as most of it takes place in... the bomb shelter, with three players, and there are a lot of mental gymnastics to play as to whether or not there is an attack, as well as the motivations of Goodman's character Howard. He can be a paranoid control freak with good intentions, trying to protect the younger people from danger. In other scenes, he is a calculating monster, intimidating his captives into showing him "respect" after the "kindness" that he has shown them after saving their lives. Goodman is a well-respected and versatile actor, but sometimes he gets taken for granted as a supporting actor, seen as just consistently good. He hasn't had an Oscar nomination, and though the Oscars don't honor horror films much for acting performances, I think Goodman deserves special recognition for this study in character acting, not just as a villain in a thriller. He was just great in this in a chilling performance.

I don't want to say a lot about it, because I don't want to spoil the film, but I liked how the film kept the audience guessing, and were in the head of Winstead's character Michelle, a woman who wakes up after a car accident chained up in the bomb shelter with an injured leg. She is immediately skeptical about Howard's claims about saving her life before the attack, and keeps trying for a way out, trying to read the scene and play calmly while using her wits and senses to plot an escape. Winstead is someone who is really talented at finding the humanity and realism in a character, and losing herself in a character to find its nuances (much like how Goodman does here to great effect). I liked that she just kept fighting and didn't give up, but one could still see her mental anguish and frustration, she wasn't infallible. I just related to her character a lot, and it was due to Winstead's stellar performance.

John Gallagher, Jr. played Emmet, the other captive in the house, and I liked trying to figure out his background and motivation, like to catch a tell or a twist. Though I ended up being wrong about my predictions, I still liked trying to figure him out, as he seemed too innocent and nice on the outside to be believed at first (not acting-wise, more his motivations).

I liked that the film was uncomfortable to watch. It is more of a thriller and less horror in the boo-scare sense, but I prefer horror movies that are psychological and have monsters that aren't who you expect, it is more interesting.

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