Monsters come in many forms

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Back in 2007 during the release of “Transformers,” one of the most memorable things was actually a preview before the movie.

Depicting a typical house party suddenly interrupted by an attack on New York City, only a date punctuated the end of the preview. Eventually, following a mysterious marketing campaign, the kaiju (“monster”) film, entitled “Cloverfield,” came out and rocketed to critical acclaim and financial success.

A follow-up has been highly anticipated ever since, with only snippets and rumors, until a mysterious trailer premiered alongside the film “13 Hours.” It announced a sequel, “10 Cloverfield Lane,” due for release shockingly soon after the release of the trailer.

It’s important to know that this is not really a sequel to the original “Cloverfield.” It is set in the same universe as the original, but has none of the original’s cast, setting, themes or the titular “Cloverfield” monster.

The film follows Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a young fashion designer who flees from her troubles after an argument with her fiancé, Ben (Bradley Cooper, in an uncredited voice cameo). As she makes her way through Louisiana, Michelle is suddenly struck by a passing truck while distracted by a call from Ben and reports of major cities suffering blackouts. The film starts off quietly, allowing the audience to nibble on some popcorn before being slammed with a bang of an opening, setting the feelings of suspense, dread and terror in motion.

Michelle awakes to find herself confined in an underground bunker by survivalist and military veteran Howard (John Goodman), who assures Michelle that the outside world has been blanketed by nuclear fallout following nuclear attacks around the world, claiming that the world outside is uninhabitable. Refusing to believe his story, Michelle attempts to escape with the help of her companion, Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr). However, after some deliberation and a shocking incident, Michelle relents, deciding to spend her life in the bunker. But she’s uncertain about which is worse: to live with a mentally unhinged survivalist or test her luck on the outside? To reveal anything further would ruin the film.

The film, produced on an estimated budget of $15 million, utilizes just one major set (the bunker) and three principal actors. Thankfully we get strong performances from all three actors, from the cunning brilliance of Winstead’s performance and the aloof but sweet nature of Gallagher, Jr’s performance. The most unnerving and significant of the lot is Goodman’s terrifying and unpredictable performance as Howard, which makes it unnecessary to include any sort of monster in this film. The director keeps up the simmering tension, as all three characters slowly lose their stability and Howard’s sudden outbursts become increasingly dangerous and commonplace. This is as close as one may get to a pure Hitchcockian vibe from any thriller in the past few years aside from last year’s terrific “The Gift.”

The film is a strong spiritual successor to the first film, conveying a similar feeling of dread and pure intensity to the original, The slow-burn pace might be a bit too deliberate for some, but the performances, atmospheric soundtrack and creative directing is more than worth the price of a movie ticket.

Film: “10 Cloverfield Lane”
Directed by: Dan Trachtenberg
Release Date: March 11
Rating: ★★★★★