I promise I’m not going to give anything away. I was almost going to skip reviewing 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE altogether until I realized I was suffering from some kind of Stockholm Syndrome and that the clever marketing of this flick had hypnotized me into thinking that mum’s the word…or else. I have to admit though that there was something so luxurious about seeing a movie cold and knowing next to zero about it. I for one try to make a point of NOT following the horror news sites. I feel like they are constantly ruining things for me and I miss the old days before the Internet when movies held more mystique. Still, I’d be lying if I said my assumptions about this movie were that far off the mark. It followed the psychic map in my head pretty closely but don’t worry there’s still a treasure trove of worthwhile surprises.
JOHN GOODMAN, JOHN GOODMAN, JOHN GOODMAN. The man is a marvel. I just want to thank this flick right off the bat for fully utilizing this incredible actor’s talent. This could very well be his best role. He’s like this giant spinning disco ball reflecting every possible color in the emotional spectrum. Ya love him, you hate him, he’s endearing, he’s terrifying; the only thing constant is his brilliance. And there’s probably not many young actresses who could hold their own and not disappear in GOODMAN’s presence but MARY ELIZABETH WINSTEAD is up to the task and then some. I like her, she’s got an earthy tomboy next door thing going on that reminds me of some of my favorite seventies actresses (and I hope this role leads folks to give 2011’s THE THING a more open-minded chance). The third major player is JOHN GALLAGHER, JR. and he’s remarkably real and engaging too. Geez, I was just saying in that PIN post the other day that I was hungry for some satisfying genre characters and here they are! These are people I do not mind being trapped with. There’s a kind of clubhouse vibe going on for much of the movie that made me wish it would never end. Why does the song “I Think We’re Alone Now?” have to be so short? If you are a montage fetishist like myself, get ready for ambrosia.
And now for the not so good news. In the near future, you’re probably going to hear a dissenting minority bitching about the film’s ending. Count me among those sad crabapples. The ending in no way nullifies the precision nail-biting suspense and noble character building that came before it but it still feels like gilding a lily to me. It’s slightly off and somehow wrong like MERYL STREEP eating a McRibb. Without ruining anything, lets just say hypothetically that the ending involves a jar of pickles, for some reason this movie goes out of its way to feature a generic, store brand jar of pickles. I don’t get it when they could have lost zero face and just handed over the name brand jar of pickles the audience is clearly craving. Even I, whose motto is usually “screw the audience” feels the poor saps should be thrown a bone (or at least something above a bobo brand of pickles) once in a while. I get that no means no when it comes to a movie delivering on the goods that it alluded to even in its title but something about this withholding feels vaguely stingy to me.
It’s no biggie, the flick is still better than anyone has the right to expect in most departments; it’s just that these days when all one has to do is wait a couple months to see something at home at literally a 90 % discount they might want to know what they’re getting into. My theater was even offering this movie in IMAX for a few extra bucks which is kind of nuts considering it’s as fish-tank constrained as LIFEBOAT (1944) , ROPE (1988) or COME BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN (1982) for nine tenths of its runtime. Oh well, its still a nail-biting hoot and a half and the acting is indeed worth the price of admission alone but…is it really so difficult to hand over the pickles? I know my opinion holds zero value in the world but I feel its my duty to share with anyone else who might have moths flying out of their wallet that my favorite scene in the whole flick involves the assembly of a jigsaw puzzle. Do with that information what you will. Anyway this movie is super great until it slips slightly and becomes only super good.