I wanted to see "10 Cloverfield Lane" since I first heard about the plot (which was only two months ago). A handful of people hiding (against their will?) from a terrible menace outside (a nuclear attack? chemical warfare? a terrorist attack, Martians? a zombie apocalypse?) in a homemade bunker.
You see, I’ve seen this story before. Actually, I’ve been a part of it. Kinda.
Back in the early ‘70s I worked as a youth director. At the time, curriculum was virtually nonexistent. Nothing. Nada. But this one guy — with long hair and a rough beard — named Dennis Benson was about the only guy publishing anything. In his book, “Gaming”, he provided a small, '45 record and instructions on how to conduct a unique survival simulation. So I did.
I invited the kids to gather in a small room and listen as ‘Ralph’, a survival computer (on the '45), gave us instructions. Ralph told us to seal the door so we sealed it with duct tape. Ralph said we were the only surviving members of the human race and we had to decide what kind of society we were going to create to start over. We talked about it. Then Ralph said someone was outside the door and we had to decide if we would let that person (possibly contaminated) in. We decided. Our supply levels had depleted too rapidly, so we had to kick two people out and we had to decide which
two. Then Ralph told us it was safe to leave … but could we? Since Ralph had been wrong, should we now trust him? Was it safe?
Cool simulation game. It made you feel like you were really there.
"10 Cloverfield Lane" is like that. People locked in a tiny bunker created by Howard (John Goodman) whose sanity is questionable from the start. Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.) describes him as having, “a blackbelt in Conspiracy Theories". Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) must decide whether to trust Howard and/or Emmett when they say the world outside has been destroyed. There's no computer named, “Ralph” but she does have trust issues. Real trust issues. Trust me.
So I went to see "10 Cloverfield Lane". I had to pick the right time to go see it — when my wife was out of town (she hates scary movies). So, she went to Atlanta and I went to the movies.
At it’s foundation, this flick is a ‘how to’ movie. Michelle has to figure things out (and that’s what makes it really fun). Can she discover how to get out? Can she figure out how to unlock the padlocks on the doors? If she gets out, can she figure out how to survive. If things are really bad outside, will can she figure out how to breathe? Does Howard know what’s going on? Is Howard a mad serial killer?
There are only eight actors in the cast, including three who are only voices (radio and phone), so a lot of pressure is on Winstead, Goodman and Gallagher, and they play their roles superbly (especially creepy Goodman).
Like a good simulation game, a really good movie goes with you when you walk outside. The feeling hangs around awhile. That’s how I felt when I first saw “Jaws”. I was scared to open the front door of my house, even though sharks couldn’t be in there, at least I didn't think so.
After "10 Cloverfield Lane, I walked out of the theater to a bright, blue, cloudless sky wondering if it was really safe outside.
So, is it safe?
Addendum: I found the book and record I mentioned at the beginning of the post. Far Out, Man! (I told you it was old).
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Rookie Movie Reviews
Stories are stories, whether they are recited around a roaring campfire, printed on paper or projected on a screen. And, stories should say something.