FlixChatter Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

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Talk about a “sequel” that no one saw it coming huh? I don’t believe anyone except the filmmakers and studio folks knew that this movie even existed before the trailer was shown a couple of months ago. A sort of “blood relative” to the 2008 found footage Cloverfield, this new movie is more of a Twilight Zone episode and it’s 10 times better than the original “movie” (both are produced by JJ Abrams).

A young woman named Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) decided to leave her boyfriend and while on the road, she got a call from him. But as she was about to answer the phone, she got in a car accident. Hours later she woke up and handcuffed to the wall and had nothing on by her underwear. A mysterious man named Howard (John Goodman) said he rescued her and brought her to his secret underground shelter. He told her that there’s been an attack and many people have died. If she wants to stay alive, she needs to follow his orders. Later she meets another man named Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) who she thought was Howard’s prisoner but Emmett said he fought to get inside the shelter.

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The whole movie is about these three characters interacting with one another and if I can’t really say much without giving away spoilers. The performances by the actors were quite good, especially Goodman. You don’t really know if he’s telling the truth or he’s just crazy. Gallagher provided the humor but deep down he’s a beaten man who has regrets about his life choices. But the movie belongs to Winstead. Unlike many of the female leads in other thrillers, her character is smart and always on guard about her surroundings. She never trusted Howard and when it’s time to take action, she’s the one in charge.

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Directed by Dan Trachtenberg, the movie felt like a very good episode of The Twilight Zone. Trachtenberg was able to create some tight tension moments and keep all of his actors on their toes. Since this is his first feature, I thought he did an impressive job. But like many young filmmakers, he couldn’t resist the use of hand-held shaky cam on some scenes. I don’t know if it’s being taught in film schools regularly or what, but it needs to stop.

Despite the good performances and tight direction, the movie’s finale was sort of a letdown for me. I wouldn’t go into it but I thought the writers should have come up with a better way to show the audience of what really happened to the world. That said, this is a good thriller and you don’t need to see Cloverfield to enjoy this one.

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Have you seen 10 Cloverfield Lane? Well, what did you think?

Weekend Roundup: Coherence (2013) Review

Happy Monday everyone! Well, in case you noticed, I haven’t been blogging much lately as I’ve been sick with a stubborn cold for over a week now. One of my coworkers apparently got pneumonia and he has to be off work for a whole week. So just for precaution, I was at urgent care Thursday night for 3.5 hours checking to make sure I don’t have it. Well now I’ve passed on my cold on to my hubby, so we’re both sick during one of the warmest and gorgeous Minnesota Spring 😦

Well suffice to say, I didn’t really get much blogging done, but I did get to rewatch Stardust last night which was more fun than the first time I saw it. Boy the cast is really amazing in that one and they’re all fun to watch. Interesting to see baby-faced Charlie Cox is playing Daredevil and in the beginning of the movie he had a fight with another British cutie Henry Cavill aka Superman 😉

I also saw two sci-fi movies from 2013 this weekend. Here’s a review of one of them:

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Strange things begin to happen when a group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead.

This movie came highly recommended from my husband’s coworkers and I have to say the premise sounds intriguing. It starts with a woman driving in a car whilst she’s on the phone with who appears to be her boyfriend, then when she hangs up, the phone suddenly cracks. Does the comet passing overhead have something to do with it? Well, that’s the question everyone, both on and off screen, are wondering about.

I wish I could get into the story more but the camera work is so nausea-inducing it’s hard to concentrate on what’s going on where you’re trying not to vomit. In fact I had to close my eyes several times to reduce my headache but the hand-held camera bounces around the entire time, blurring and focusing, zooming in and out, often so close you could practically see the actor’s pores. I don’t know why filmmakers think this found-footage style would add anything to the story.

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Now, even if the camera work weren’t an issue, I’m not sure that I’m all that impressed with this film. I’m surprised of the high rating to be honest. I mean yes, the story has potential and there are some really creepy and eerie moments, but overall it’s quite tedious. The strange happenings get weirder and weirder and the entire dinner party were gripped with paranoia and started freaking out. With the right cast, it might’ve been fun and amusing, but I find myself being irritated by most of the rather unlikable characters or trying to figure out where I’ve seen some of the actors before. I might’ve recognized one of them from Buffy but not sure about the rest.

It’s billed as a sci-fi thriller but it’s more of a drama as hardly anything happens, mostly people chatting during a dinner party. The third act is slightly more interesting when one of the characters realized what’s going on and decided to do something about it. The movie is only about an hour and a half long, though it felt slightly longer than that. The finale felt rather anticlimactic but by that point I was glad the film was over. I kind of think that the story might’ve worked better as an episode of Twilight Zone or something like that.

Now, given that this is a low-budget indie film, I don’t want to be too harsh on it as I think the filmmaker have potential and this story could’ve been quite gripping. Interestingly, writer/director James Ward Byrkit was the writer of the animated film Rango which I quite enjoyed. If only this film had a bit more wit and humor, perhaps it might’ve been more palatable.

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So what did you see this weekend? If you seen Coherence, curious to hear what you think!