The Anti-Shymalan: 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Watch enough movies and you quickly realize that the vast majority are crap, some are okay, and on rare occasions you see a really good film. I was prepared for 10 Cloverfield Lane to be, at best, an okay movie. Wow, was I surprised.

First of all, I was unaware of its connection to 2008’s Cloverfield, other than having the same word in its title. When a friend told me the movies were somehow related, but not in a sequel/prequel way, I was skeptical. From the preview 10 Cloverfield Lane did not have anything to do with aliens. It was a mystery/horror. So, I looked it up on Wikipedia and what do you know? There was a connection. If it’s on Wikipedia it is the gospel truth, right?

Secondly, I wasn’t expecting much from the movie. I mean, it looked like it might be an good enough horror flick, but nothing spectacular. The biggest draw was seeing John Goodman play a psychopath. After hearing about its connection to Cloverfield, a movie that uses the gimmicky and distracting found footage perspective, I lowered my expectations.

And then I watched 10 Cloverfield Lane.

It blew my mind. First, John Goodman killed it in this movie. He is about as far from Dan Conner as one can be. Now before getting all fussy, I know he has been in many things, and I recognize that he is a great actor. I also have to admit that in some way, every time I see him, I think Dan Conner. However, Howard, Goodman’s character, is a complicated, disgusting piece of shit. Goodman was so very good at bringing him to life. So much so that on the way home I wondered what it must be like to have to get into that space, really own that character? I assume Goodman is a nice guy. As such, it must be difficult to play a character that is so vile and completely opposite of yourself.

Second is the aspect which really made the movie for me. It is hard to write about it because I do not want to spoil it. I will just say this, the twist is: there is NO twist. This is where my title starts to make sense. See, I am not a fan of the “clever” twist in flims. More often than not they are gimmicky, at best, and at worst they are down right insulting. M. Night Shymalan movies come to mind for examples of the insulting twists. His movies have us invest in the characters and story for the first hour and fifteen minutes, then, BAM, the twist. Ha. Ha. Gotcha. Fade to black. End credits roll. All that we invested in was so much cruft to be tossed away. 10 Cloverfield Lane manages to keeps you guessing and give you the goods at the end and not cheat you—on any of it. It really is brilliant. And, damn it, that is as much as I can say. I have already said too much.

If you are a fan of mystery thrillers I cannot recommend this movie enough. Do not get me wrong, it is not perfect. There are some eye-rolling moments. But all things considered, it is a hell of a ride and well worth the price of the ticket. Plus, once you have seen it, come back so we talk about it sans spoilers.

Well, what are you waiting for? Go see it already. Go on. I will be here when you get back.

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