April 9, 2016
The title of this new thriller is very distinctly familiar. "Cloverfield" was a well-received but notoriously shaky found-footage type of monster film back in 2008. At first, I did not really plan to watch this one because I was averse to watching extremely shaky-cam films like the first one was. However, because of an assurance that it was not going to be shaky, I decided to go check it out.
One day, Michelle got into a vehicular accident and woke up in an enclosed room, with an injured leg and in chains. An elder man Howard came in to tell her that she is now in a bunker he built under his farm and that he had actually rescued her from what could be an alien attack on the world outside. Michelle struggles to process whether Howard was really her savior or was he just a psychopath holding her captive?
The way director Dan Trachtenberg (in his feature film debut) told the story. You will definitely be puzzled as Michelle was as to the status of her current situation. Can this guy Howard be trusted or not? On one side, we see Howard as a kindly reliable father-type ready with food, supplies and entertainment. On the other side, we also get the sense that Howard had something sinister under his sleeve. We are kept on edge the whole time. The suspense created was very effective.
As Michelle, Mary Elizabeth Winstead succeeds in getting us to root for her to make the right decisions. This is the first time I got to see her in a lead role, although she had been in a number of B-horror films like "The Ring Two", "Final Destination 3", and "The Thing." John Goodman is a tried and true veteran character actor and he further proves his versatility here with his double-edged character Howard.
The less said about the final act the better. It will be polarizing -- either you will enjoy it or you totally hate it. It was so outrageously out-of-this-world, yet with just that subtle sense of humor which kept it grounded. I viewed this film without a nitpicking mind, so I actually found that ending wild and exciting. However, I also got a sense of anti-climax with that ending. This was especially because it came from left field, following the suffocating claustrophobia of the first two acts. 8/10.