Reed Alexander's Horror Review of '10 Cloverfield Lane' (2016)
Who's the real monster, Goodman or the plot?
Now this movie wasn't half bad. It actually starts out pretty damn good for that matter. It kinda loses stride quick, but it's a hard concept to sell and a fine line to walk. Let me s'plain... This is a concept I've spoken of many times in my reviews. Is the character out of his/her god damn gourd, or is this shit actually happening? No real spoilers here, our friend John Goodman springs it on you in the first few minutes of the movie. He didn't "kidnap" the female lead, he "rescued her" from the apocalypse... and who knows what's out there? Russians? Zombies? Aliens? Global viral outbreak? A big god damn creature from another dimension? I guess we'll never know! Not with John Goodman's character keeping the female lead locked in an underground bunker...
But that's the whole fucking point, isn't it?! Is his character batshit crazy, or has something on the surface wiped out most of humanity? There have been movies in the past that successfully walked the difficult tightrope of grounding reality in the realm of possibility while always leaving enough to question. So is this going to be a "The Mothman Prophecies" successful tightrope between madness and the supernatural? Or will it be They Look Like People, where the lead character is obviously looney-tunes and it would be WAY too much of a stretch to say he was right all along.
Weeeeeeell... both. Sorta. At first the plot does everything right. There's enough for the female lead to witness that leaves everything to question. I mean, John Goodman's character is clearly not okay... but there's enough evidence to keep you guessing if there really is something happening on the surface. But then they fuck it all up halfway through and switch tones.
Before I get into the spoilers, let me at least say this. Everything about this movie was fantastic right up until a point, and most of it still pretty fantastic even past that point. The acting was stunning. It really was amazing actually. John Goodman throws out all the stops. The atmosphere is fantastic. There's that sense of awkward, claustrophobic discomfort, especially under the microcosm of an abusive, authoritarian parental figure. Don't get me wrong, do watch this movie. I can't add it to my "must watch list," but it came damn close.
There are aliens on the surface... Really fucking disappointed about that. I always saw the Cloverfield monster as more of an extra dimensional creature like the creatures from The Myst. But... aliens. Fine, it's aliens. But that's not really the disappointing part.
John Goodman's character is actually fucking nuts. You find out that his wife left with his kid. This apparently caused an obsession with young girls where he's looking to replace his lost daughter. You find out that at some point he kidnapped a girl in town and locked her down in his survival bunker basically to replace his old daughter. This was basically a practice run for grabbing the female lead while the proverbial shit was hitting the fan on an intergalactic level.
Now, this would have been just fine... if they didn't reveal 45 minutes into the fucking movie that something actually is going on at the surface. So, you find out that the nut is both right and crazy WAY too fast. There was so much more they could have done with this. This movie didn't go far enough. It should have been a slow reveal of how fucking nuts John Goodman's character is, right before the female lead is basically forced to decide between the monster on the surface and the monster in the bunker. It needed more time to ferment that struggle before revealing that something was actually happening on the surface.
Again, don't get me wrong, there was a lot about this movie that was amazing. It just didn't push. It didn't go the extra mile. I feel let down, to be honest.