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Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane

Saw 10 Cloverfield Lane today. I’m a sucker for the rare-yet-diverse “trapped in a room with scary people” sub-genre (part of the reason I drooled so much over The Hateful 8), and this effort certainly didn’t disappoint. Without giving too much away, as unraveling the mystery of exactly what you’re watching is a huge part of the narrative experience, this is such a solidly-scripted film; every detail, no matter how insignificant it seems, pays off at some point down the road. John Goodman’s performance helps, striking a delicate balance between huggable and horrifying (kind of like in Barton Fink) that kept me questioning his motivations until the very end. That sense of uncertainty is ultimately the movie’s greatest strength, tapping into the universal fear of the unknown–and making Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s refusal to give into that fear extremely cathartic.

Just don’t go in expecting a straight Cloverfield spinoff. This is pretty clearly an attempt to start an anthology series in the spirit of The Twilight Zone. If future entries rise to this level of quality, I’m 100% on board with that.

[Originally written March 12, 2016.]

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