10) 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
Who would have though a sequel to Cloverfield would not only surpass the original, but leave it completely in the dust? The fact this found footage monster movie even had a sequel in the first play was a surprise. But it’s a miracle that it turned out as thrilling as this film.
With the exception of having giant monsters and the word Cloverfield, these two films couldn’t be more different. 10 Cloverfield Lane not only does away with the found footage style, but it also it does away with the monster movie genre in favour of a paranoid thriller. It may not be epic, but writers Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken and Damien Chazelle and director Dan Trachtenberg more than make up for it with pure tension, gripping performances and an unsettling environment.
The film makes the bold move of having the most of the film take place in a bomb shelter. What a setting it was. With cinderblock walls and low hanging lights both creates a sense of claustrophobia and recalls the atomic age. Then there’s the living room, which tries to create the illusion of perfect Norman Rockwell-esque homestead. These don’t hide the cinderblock walls.
But what really brings in the tension is John Goodman’s performance. Goodman is a rare actor who elevates every scene he’s in, but he really brings his A game as Howard. He presents himself as a gentleman to our heroine (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), taking her in and fixing her broken leg. Like Annie Wilkes from Misery, there’s something unsetting about his manners. He is so intense that a chuckle can set him off, as one uncomfortable dinner proves. He is such a paranoid lunatic that for all we know, he could be making up the chemical warfare in the outside world.
Sure, the ending leans too much into conventional action scene, but the earlier scenes are still excellent.