There’s Aliens Outside, Let’s Hide in the Basement
How many times have movie characters hidden in the basement, away from alien invaders? I’m not sure, but a hell of a lot. It’s not an original concept, but 10 Cloverfield Lane makes up for this in sheer dramatic flair. It has good acting. It has good dialogue between the actors and the characters are good. It seems to have all you could want in a psychological thriller, but a number of things have drawn complaints.
John Goodman carries this movie with a good performance and I think Mary Elizabeth Winstead matches that with her own acting chops. Goodman plays this loony-toons conspiracy theorist, which is a classic case for villainy, but they don’t go that route. In fact, most of the movie betrays the usual generic stereotypes set by the premise, so Goodman ends up being not your typical wacko. As far as Winstead’s character, the New York Times complained about the movie not capitalizing on the drama and seriousness of her situation, which I guess is valid, but I still think over half the movie works very well because of her acting.
The biggest complaint I’ve heard is that the ending feels disjointed and out-of-place with the rest of the movie, which had its emphasis on the psychological. To be honest, I don’t have a complaint about this part, because it still has tension and it still has drama, even though the ending is kicked up about ten notches from the first half. It looks a little silly, so there is that, I guess.
After the movie, one of my friends turned to me and said, “You always pick the strange movies to see.” I guess I’ve been caught! It was a little strange. The ending was way weird. The movie doesn’t develop into a true psychological confrontation between Winstead and Goodman, instead going in another direction, so that’s a little disappointing. Further, the movie even betrays Winstead’s character a little by showing that Goodman was right in hiding in a basement. That’s not the best choice. But what can you do. They shoehorned this small movie into the Cloverfield universe, so you get a Cloverfield ending. I guess a real psychological thriller just isn’t big enough anymore.
Overall, this is a good movie with a disjoined tone. Some people are going to hate that, but I didn’t mind. It was “strange and weird”, and it made me feel this movie was the odd cousin to the original Cloverfield. I think it
takes inspiration from claustrophobic movies like War of the Worlds (1953), where the characters were hiding in the barn. There’s a musical montage like Dawn of the Dead. In one scene, Winstead crawls through a very tight vent, which I’ve seen in other movies. It’s certainly not original, but I still think 10 Cloverfield Lane is a good time. I’ll admit the ending doesn’t fit with the rest of the movie’s tone, but I didn’t mind. This time. Strange, I know.