New ‘Cloverfield’ outperforms original

There could be some spoiling going on. You were warned.

I won’t go extensively into the plot of 10 Cloverfield Lane or anything like that in this analysis. Honestly, you can get most of what you need to know to get you up to speed from the trailers.

That said, I do have some thoughts about 10 Cloverfield Lane.

  • Not enough can be said about the performances of John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. Goodman’s Howard is immensely creepy, but the question is “Is he weird guy next door who collects insects?” creepy or “Is he weird guy next door who collects insects and wants to sew himself a costume out of women’s skin?” creepy. Goodman balances his creepiness well and makes viewers uneasy about Howard’s next move throughout. Winstead’s Michelle is a survivor, constantly thinking about what to do next and probing Howard to see just how mental he is, alternatively hopeful and terrified. Gallagher’s Emmett is an underachieving redneck and the closest thing Howard has to a friend. Emmett’s casual reactions to Howard’s oddness help diffuse and temper Michelle’s fear and concern. The three together make for an unsteady, tense, volatile trio.
  • The original Cloverfield was an OK film, an attempt to use the found-footage style horror films have used effectively in more of a science fiction setting. But again, it was only OK. Bravo to JJ Abrams and director Dan Trachtenburg for upping the ante in the movie number two, going a different direction with the film, both stylistically and thematically. So many sequels are just a naked cash grab, a sucker’s bet. 10 Cloverfield Lane is the rare sequel that isn’t really a sequel – it’s more of a story told in the same Cloverfield-verse – and a film that surpasses its predecessor.
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