Saturday, September 17, 2016

"10 Cloverfield Lane" (2016) d/ Dan Trachtenberg

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I was under the impression that I reviewed 2008's Cloverfield somewhere along the way, even if only through a brief one take. Apparently not. Where is my mind, like Black Francis used to croon. Still, that missing entry will not halt production here on tonight's review, the 2016 follow up, 10 Cloverfield Lane, a sequel in name only which Dean of Detonation, J.J. Abrams, who produced here, calls a mere "blood relative" to the original movie. Speaking of the original, the hulking, colossal beast is back for this entry, only now he's none other than John Goodman, a genre favorite since we first saw him in 1984's C.H.U.D., and he's supported by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who fright fans might recognize from her appearance in the Black X-mas (2006) reboot, though most, like myself, will have long put that calamity out of their consciousness by now, I'd hope.

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"maybe you could take the next selfie out of three point stance? Sincerely, Brett Favre."
After a spat with her fiance spoils her generally cheery disposition, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) takes an angry, late night drive through rural Loose-uh-anna, where the radio confirms a recent blackout phenomenon occurring in major cities. To further compound matters, some reckless fuck suddenly head on slams her car off the road, and she wakes up in a leg brace, shackled to a wall in some concrete cellar. Hate when that happens, don't you? Her captor/saviour is a curious fellow named Howard (John Goodman), who graciously explains to the groggy accident victim that the country has come under attack from a threat of unknown origin, and that she is currently housed in a bunker from which she is unable to leave, due to the toxicity of the outside air. Validating Howard's tall tale to a certain degree, is Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.), a fellow who's helped construct the very bunker that the trio has been subsisting in. He claims to have witnessed the attack in question, and subsequently fought his way into the quarters. Still, Howard confesses that he may have run Michelle off the road on purpose on that fateful night. Awww, somebody's got a crush.

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The mashed potatoes in this vat belong to me. No one is allowed nary a spoonful unless overseen by me."
During one of Michelle's many mad scrambles toward freedom, after jacking Howard's bunker keys, she encounters a hysterical woman outside the main door and decked out in open sores and lesions, who frantically tries to break in, but Michelle seals her fate by taking Howard's side on this one and returning to the group after she brains herself repeatedly on the reinforced door. Time passes, revealing that Howard  may be concealing a dark secret or two of his own, showing photographs of what he claims is his daughter, Megan, except that the pictures show a girl named Brittany, a high school friend of Emmett's younger sister, who disappeared a few years back. Maybe you and Emmett should go ahead and fashion that makeshift biohazard suit, and keep it on the d-l from Howie, just in case he decides to put that fifty-five gallon drum of chloric acid he's got sitting around down there, to good use. Naturally things come to a tension-packed boil, guns are fired, acid gets spilled, and the bunker's entrance is finally breached, but what barely passes for a finale in this instance feels completely added on and unnecessary; a cuckold's by-the-numbers love letter to political correctness and gender balance. This development stunts the picture's possible growth for me, and designates it to the ever-heaping pile of ordinary big studio fodder. Approach with caution.

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"...on rotation for three and a half minutes and my corn dog still tastes like rubber in the middle!"
Despite the flat, predictable ending, I found myself enjoying Goodman's performance a lot; a pity that it's immersed in such median genre fare, or I'd probably revisit it again soon. Not ruling such an occasion out altogether, mind you, just still feeling gypped by the production's assumptive nod to it's sci-fi-crazy audience, and it's believed limited ability to interpret it's own favorite cinema genre at the movies. On the scale, Lane musters up a deuce, no War of the Worlds (2005) by any means, but far from Nightbeast (1982). Wednesday nights seem like a perfect fit for a screening, if you feel driven to do just that sometime, for whatever reason.

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Remember your first dime store Ben Cooper Halloween costume?
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