Thursday, June 21, 2018
Things To Do

Review: Why '10 Cloverfield Lane' is one of the greatest sequels of all time

The standard was set so low, and the results are thrilling enough that 10 Cloverfield Lane must be considered one of the greatest sequels of all time.

In an impressive feature debut, director Dan Trachtenberg fashioned a tangential follow-up to 2008's shakycam kaiju flick Cloverfield. Only the title and an unfortunate late tonal shift directly connect 10 Cloverfield Lane to its irritating predecessor.

This is a tense, superbly acted mystery of collateral paranoia after Cloverfield, in which we couldn't discern was happening. Until it isn't.

Trachtenberg works from a screenplay that wasn't intended as part of a Cloverfield movie universe, as producer J.J. Abrams has hinted (and the final shot promises). You can tell where the original idea ends and the sci-fi ride is hitched. 10 Cloverfield Lane makes all the connection it needs with one detonated f-bomb; everything afterward is just sensory salve for the CGI-dependent.

But what a movie up to that point.

10 Cloverfield Lane gets into our heads because that's where the scariest stuff happens. Terror is announced in quiet terms; a clean shaven face or a missed answer in a board game. It's Room without motherly instinct shielding her son and the audience from bad things happening. Yet much funnier, in a nervous sort of way.

In a wordless opening set to Bear McCreary's menacing music, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) packs and scampers; why isn't explained. A jarring accident later, Michelle awakens, injured and shackled in a windowless concrete room.

She is a prisoner of Howard (John Goodman), a genially unhinged survivalist who insists otherwise. He saved her life by bringing her to a bunker beneath his farmhouse, after some kind of attack — Chemical? Nuclear? Russians? Martians? — on humanity.

Howard sounds crazy, but we saw the first movie. 10 Cloverfield Lane superbly shuffles what we know (and don't) and what the characters are experiencing. At times, Howard seems less insane; maybe he really is doing a favor for Michelle and willing lodger Emmitt (John Gallagher Jr.), who helped build the bunker. Then Howard snaps, like an angrily mismanaged parent.

Winstead makes a resourceful victim of Michelle, always seeking an escape angle, from smuggling contraband to fake-flirting Emmitt to push Howard's buttons. There's also a trace of Stockholm syndrome in Michelle, invited by Howard's homey touches: a jukebox, the rubber ducky shower curtain. Women in peril are seldom so respectfully drawn in scary movies.

Yet above all else this movie is Goodman's showcase, a rare leading role he capitalizes upon with a performance to be considered among his finest ever. Everything Goodman has been in movies — gruff, goofy, dangerous, pathetic — is right here in Howard, conveyed with tiny bits of acting business adding up to a great portrayal of a more frightening monster than alien lizards.

10 Cloverfield Lane isn't airtight; Howard has conveniently lax standards in storing materials that could be used against him, and a couple of expositional monologues slow the movie's roll. There are plenty more scenes that genuinely entertain, like a montage of this odd household being established, set to I Think We're Alone Now, the Tommy James and the Shondells version, not the low-hanging Tiffany fruit.

I wish Trachtenberg ended his movie at my idea of a better moment, but that's what the stop button on a remote is for. Nevertheless, 10 Cloverfield Lane joins The Witch as evidence of a refreshing development in movie terror, toying with brains rather than splattering them.

Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.

Comments

Sports on TV/radio for Friday, June 22

TODAYBaseballYankees at Rays7 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMDodgers at Mets7 p.m.MLBMarlins at Rockies8:30 p.m.FSFCFLWinnipeg at Montreal7 p.m.ESPN2College baseball, World SeriesMississippi State vs. Oregon State3 p.m.ESPNArkansas vs. Florida8 p.m.ESPNHorsesRoy...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Suspect arrested in rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death

Suspect arrested in rapper XXXTentacion’s shooting death

FORT LAUDERDALE — Authorities in Florida have arrested a suspect in the killing of rising rap star XXXTentacion, who was fatally shot in his luxury BMW electric car as he left an upscale motorcycle dealership.Dedrick Devonshay Williams, 22, of Pompan...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Go Skateboarding Day celebrated at Bro Bowl in Tampa

Go Skateboarding Day celebrated at Bro Bowl in Tampa

Skaters sit on the top of a ramp during the Go Skateboarding Day at the Bro Bowl located at Perry Harvey Sr. Park Thursday, June 21, 2018 in Tampa._informq.push(['embed']);Markus Jalaber, 23, of Tampa, grabs $40 after completing a backside flip to fl...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Column: We can still save wild Florida, but time for panthers, black bears and us is running out

Column: We can still save wild Florida, but time for panthers, black bears and us is running out

When we dipped our paddles into Florida Bay at the mangrove fringe of Everglades National Park and took the first strokes of the 2012 Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition, I’m not sure I fully understood the scope of the challenge we were facing. Six...
Updated: 8 hours ago
MegaCon Tampa Bay celebrity guests include ‘Walking Dead,’ ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Doctor Who’ stars

MegaCon Tampa Bay celebrity guests include ‘Walking Dead,’ ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Doctor Who’ stars

MegaCon Tampa Bay has announced a lineup of celebrity guests that will likely conjure a mix of excitement and nostalgia among local geeks.They include Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who currently plays Negan on The Walking Dead, Christopher Lloyd, best known f...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Review: Look inside the tent of a Gibsonton-based sideshow in Tessa Fontaine’s memoir ‘The Electric Woman’

Review: Look inside the tent of a Gibsonton-based sideshow in Tessa Fontaine’s memoir ‘The Electric Woman’

Grief can unhinge us, disconnect us from our daily lives, make us do things we’ve never done. Grief made Tessa Fontaine run away and join the circus.To be more exact, the sideshow: World of Wonders, the last traditional traveling sideshow in the coun...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Like ‘a beer after a hockey fight,’ how to celebrate Canada Day in Tampa Bay

Like ‘a beer after a hockey fight,’ how to celebrate Canada Day in Tampa Bay

The event hopes to promote friendship between our fighting nations.
Published: 06/21/18
Luke Bryan talks love, acceptance and his growing depth before Tampa stop

Luke Bryan talks love, acceptance and his growing depth before Tampa stop

It’s been awhile since Luke Bryan crashed our party. The country music superstar who has racked up awards hasn’t blessed us ’round these parts in awhile. Bryan last played Tampa back in 2015. "We played many multiple nights at the (MidFlorida Credit ...
Published: 06/21/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 22

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 22

Daryl Hall and John Oates with Train : The legendary number-one selling duo and Train perform full sets and a joint set. Kandace Springs opens. 7 p.m., Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $45.75-$125. (813) 301-2500; amaliearena.com.St. Pete ...
Published: 06/21/18
Three movies are in the works about Hulk Hogan and Gawker. Will they remember who’s the victim?

Three movies are in the works about Hulk Hogan and Gawker. Will they remember who’s the victim?

Sonny BunchAccording to Vulture, there are three separate movies in the works about the downfall of the New York-based gossip blog Gawker.One is based on the book Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue; it will be a...
Published: 06/21/18