Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Under the Clover

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) isn't a sequel to Cloverfield - or is it? It isn't in the same style; the filming is normal studio style, not found footage. The location isn't New York, it is rural Louisiana (in fact, mainly in a bunker). And the evil isn't giant monsters, it is something closer to home - or is it?

Mary Elizabeth Winstead breaks up with her boyfriend and leaves town. In her emotional state, she doesn't register the radio reports about some emergency. Now, I actually haven't seen Psycho, but did the opening remind anyone of Janet Leigh's roadtrip at the start of that movie? Never mind, not important. What is important is that she is hit by a truck, crashes, and wakes up locked in a grimy basement. Her captor is John Goodman.

I want to give away as little as possible, but the set up pretty much is the movie. Goodman is keeping Winstead captive for her own protection. He tells her there is nothing left on the surface, they will just need to stay below. Winstead doesn't believe this, doesn't trust Goodman, but what can she do?

I learned about the concept of a "bottle show" from TV writer and producer John Rogers of Kung Fu Monkey. A bottle show has a limited location and few characters - a show in a bottle. Like when they get stuck in an elevator for a whole episode (did Seinfeld ever do that?). It's often done to save money, but there's a certain elegant style to it. 10 Cloverfield Lane really pulls this off, I think. It's tense, suspenseful, and actually kind of funny. Well, it's got John Goodman.

So, a completely different movie than Cloverfield, with a different director (first timer Dan Trachtenberg). But J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot Production is clearly on to something.

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