With 10 Cloverfield Lane (Trachtenberg, 2016), Abrams returns, in a way, to the film that made him famous. Despite its name, 10 Cloverfield Lane does not share many characteristics with the original – partly because it was initially an original script that got co-opted under the Cloverfield name. Whiplash (Chazelle, 2014) wunderkind Damien Chazelle rewrote much of Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken’s work and 10 Cloverfield Lane is the better for it. Chazelle first won over the crowds at Sundance with Whiplash, which won three out of its five Oscar nominations; his most recent project, La La Land (Chazelle, 2016) has not come out in theaters yet, but is already the subject of much talk in the film community, and could lead to a first Best Actress nomination for Emma Stone, its leading lady.
Unfortunately for Chazelle, I do not think that 10 Cloverfield Lane will be up for any Academy Awards this year. However, this does not mean that 10 Cloverfield Lane is an unsatisfactory part of Damien Chazelle’s filmography. (In fact, this is good; it means that people who might not choose to watch his more indie efforts can be exposed to Chazelle’s talent). It stands apart from other recent releases in its genre, not only because of the quality of Chazelle’s writing, but because of the strong performances from its cast.
While you do not have to have watched the original Cloverfield to see 10 Cloverfield Lane, it does help the ending make more sense. I predicted what was coming, but I still found it jarring and overly long. It feels like they should have picked a project with those elements already incorporated into it, instead of forcing them so it can fit the Cloverfield label. Other than the ending, however, 10 Cloverfield Lane is highly enjoyable. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a well-written, well-acted blend of psychological and physical horror\suspense.