Weekend Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane

We missed reviewing the genre-twisting thriller when it came out, so here’s a Weekend Review of this beguiling and suspenseful 2016 film.

Title: 10 Cloverfield Lane

Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Writers: Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, Damien Chazelle

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle
John Goodman as Howard
John Gallagher Jr. as Emmett
Douglas M. Griffin as Driver
Suzanne Cryer as Desperate Woman
Bradley Cooper as voice of Ben

Available from Amazon.


A woman on the run from her significant other crashes on the highway. She awakes in the bunker of a survivalist who claims an unspecified event has destroyed civilization, and it is unsafe for her to leave.

High Point:

For most of its running time, 10 Cloverfield Lane effectively uses limited set and characters to tell a story that keeps us wondering. Is Howard what he claims to be, or what he increasingly appears to be? Is he both? Even if he is seriously disturbed, does it necessarily mean he is also delusional?

And then there’s the matter of Megan….

Low Point

My comments on Story address a kind of Low Point and yet, at the same time, I admire the filmmakers’ bravado at going where they go.

I’m just not certain the film needed to go there, or that going there improves the movie in any measurable way.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 The basic premise is not new, though it gets some credit for the conclusion.

Effects: 5/6 The effects look good.

Acting: 6/6 Goodman makes a terrifying keeper, wholly convinced of the rightness of his actions, and wholly immersed in his own cranial-rectal world-view. Imagine you’ve been kidnapped by Alex Jones during a disaster and you have something like the situation Michelle faces.

I wish the characters had developed a little more, but I cannot fault the performers for that.

Production: 5/6

Story: 5/6 If you’ve seen the film, you can commence debating the conclusion. Just remember to include spoilers. I’m not saying that the ending doesn’t work (and I’m aware of Tasha Robinson’s thoughtful essay regarding the final act’s thematic significance to the film). The ending also fits the movie into the Cloverfield mold, in that it effectively tells a smaller story occurring in the corner of a genre that deals with fantastic, world-altering events.

Emotional Response: 5/6

Overall: 5/6

In total, 10 Cloverfield Lane receives 34/42

3 replies on “Weekend Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane”

  1. Having met various “prepper” types, I can attest that Goodman’s portrayal was dead-on. It’s amazing to think this is the same guy that got his start being a verbal punching bag for Roseanne Barr.

    • I think I first saw him as the bully coach in Revenge of the Nerds but, yeah, he certainly became famous through Roseanne, and he’s had one of the most diverse careers of anyone active. The old-time character actor lives.

      I wonder how far a “Six Degrees of John Goodman” game would go.

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