10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (2016) movie review

10-clover-field-lane-trailer-2-020-featured-630x39810 Cloverfield Lane, obviously an address and subsequent spinoff to Cloverfield (2008) when monsters took Manhattan ala shaky Blair Witch hand cam.

Almost everything about this movie is scary: the writing, the directing, the blatant lack of content disguised in faux mystery.review-the-terrifying-10-cloverfield-lane-kicks-off-the-next-great-movie-franchise.jpgThe heart was right. But the execution…abrupt and ill-conceived.10_cloverfield_lane_paramount_winstead.0.0The actors, however, proved themselves professionals. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (best as Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim) and John Gallagher Jr. (from the beloved short-lived HBO series Newsroom and the perfect indie Short Term 12) cared that their roles were believable and strong.  John Goodman obviously enjoyed playing the crazy bunker-builder. They seemed eager participants in what felt like an experimental suck-up film, each shot an attempted homage to JJ or Spielberg. But even that would have been nice had this not felt more akin to Shayamalan’s more recent tragedies.

If you go in expecting monsters and aliens and jump scares and limited plot, I’m afraid…even with such low expectations, you too could be disappointed.10cloverfield-625x350It all felt forced, and left too many unsolved mysteries about the characters themselves: like the unsolved main issue of Michelle’s backstory and serious relationship on the rocks. Any real details about her Emmett in the hatch, oh sorry the bomb shelter. Man, good thing they barely had to redecorate the Lost set after Desmond set the place up. Aren’t they supposed to be hitting a button every 108 minutes?

The opening shots seem sincere, but pointless: big cardboard boxes in a small apartment and a girl feverishly packing. An earthquake that she dismisses. Then they zoom in on a set of keys and a wedding ring. Double zoom. Just so we don’t miss it. I despise forced focus. The director wants you to know she’s sad, so you zoom in on her face, then zoom in again on the tear itself. Single tear close-ups do not force empathy when the backstory is loose and limited. They attempt to build human connection through lengthy exposition. “When I was a kid…ap_10_cloverfield_lane_01_jc_160311_4x3_992

Questions that keep you watching remain unanswered. What was she running from? Is that guy who he says he is? What was the back up plan if she hadn’t been there to climb through the vent shaft? Do any of those book / song titles mean anything?Screen-Shot-2016-02-15-at-1.26.49-PMIf you wait for breadcrumbs to lead you to truth in this one, you’ll go hungry. They mean nothing in the end. (Wait. Maybe this IS another Lost finale.)2x01-JackLockeHatchI don’t know. Maybe people don’t go to the movies to think. Maybe I’m alone in blaming sloppy writing / directing. Sure JJ may have paid for it, but his MO is to support up-and-comers. He’s walking in the footsteps of his mentor Steven (Spielberg) and helping the fledgling directors take wing. Unfortunately, this Icharus not only flies too close to the sun, he flies into it inviting strangers from outerspace back with him to take over our planet. After this film, you’ll wonder which is worse: crazies on earth or crude angry aliens.

Sadly, this film felt a little too Room (2015) minus Brie Larson, meets War of the Worlds (2005), meets 5th season Lost. It’s a mess.10_cloverfield_lane_paramount.0

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