Not my best effort BUT click bait is click bait.
After getting in a car accident, a woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is held in a shelter with two men (John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr), who claim the outside world is affected by a widespread chemical attack.
A fantastic Hitchcockian opening sequence delivered high hopes as Mary Elizabeth Winstead attempted her Janet Leigh-esque escape from a bad break up. Bear McCreary’s sinister score. The window shots. It felt like an homage to Psycho from director Dan Trachtenberg.
Small trivia fact: I didn’t realise the voice of Michelle’s (Winstead) ex Ben was none other than Bradley Cooper’s.
The story didn’t mess about. It set everything up and let it all come tumbling down within 10 minutes. Hooked, line and sinker. One car collision later and Michelle awakens trapped in a bunker with her leg in a brace and handcuffed to the railing. Like something out of Saw.
The scene was set. The tension bubbling.
For the first 45 minutes I was transfixed, especially when John Goodman made his introduction. He was fantastic as Howard. Channeling his inner Kathy Bates. A return to form from the big man.
A ticking time bomb waiting to explode. A nuclear fall out whack job or genuine Samaritan?
I loved the Misery style cat and mouse game as Michelle tried to piece together everything that had happened. The questions mounting; was there an attack? Are they the only survivors?
It was good to see the underrated John Gallagher Jr (The Newsroom) get a meatier role to sink his teeth into as Emmett. Was he in on the act with Howard? Or another abductee like Michelle?
In all fairness, I couldn’t fault any of the performances. A crucial factor as the film relied solely on the three actors. Winstead was brilliant. She carried the film when the pace dragged, which it tragically did in places.
After the hour marker, I felt the film was running out of steam as Michelle began to accept her new life with this dysfunctional nuclear family.
Thankfully, the paranoia and suspense finally delivered as Howard’s lies became more transparent.
His concern for Michelle bordered on creepy Freudian levels as a silly game of “Who Am I?” unearthed some strange feelings. Unable to see Michelle as a woman BUT a young girl after losing his daughter.
That scene had me on tenterhooks. Goodman was intense. His “I’m always watching” conversation should have been ripe for a parody from Monster’s Inc (The Goodman link up was completely unintentional) BUT it was too unsettling as you feared the worst for Michelle.
To be honest up until the 80 minute marker, the post-apocalyptic bunker thriller had potential to hold its own as Michelle played the waiting game.
BUT then you realised that this had Cloverfield in the title. So things were about to get weird as Michelle plotted her escape.
There were a few twists BUT the finale felt tacked on and rushed for my liking. After all that slow burning tension and suspense, the teasing failed to deliver the goods for me.
It didn’t feel like a Cloverfield movie. The film’s greatest strength BUT also its greatest weakness as I felt the writers (One of them being none other than La La Land’s Damien Chazelle) quickly had to throw something in to tie this entry into the Cloverfield universe.
Don’t get me wrong, it was frenetic and racy BUT also chaotic and messy. A little disappointing with a silly open ending. Only because the following sequel we received was The Cloverfield Paradox. Sheesh!
BUT despite my grumblings, this was still a highly engaging and suspenseful thriller worthy of your time.
What the hell did I just watch?
A hopeless man (Paul Dano) stranded on a deserted island befriends a dead body and together they go on a surreal journey to get home.
Now imagine if Tom Hanks in Cast Away decided to interact with a farting corpse instead of a volleyball and . . . you still wouldn’t come close to anything that comes out of this strange but bizarrely watchable piece.
Brought to you by the guys that produced that Lil Jon ‘Turn Down for What?’ music video?! Really?! I think it’s fair to say that this isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea. What drove Daniel Radcliffe to do this? He really wants to shake off that Harry Potter image.
The film that triggered walkouts at the Sundance Festival? Well, that can only mean one thing. Let’s give it a watch.
The dark opening lulled me into thinking that this might be a different movie altogether with a defeated Hank (Dano – There Will Be Blood) getting ready to hang himself. Tired, frustrated and alone. The numerous and increasingly elaborate ‘message’ bottles (or boats in this case) highlighting the time our hero has endured on the desolate sand patch.
And then along came Manny (Daniel Radcliffe). Within 10 minutes I wasn’t sure if I wanted to carry on. Especially when the lead protagonist was riding the corpse like a farting jet ski across the ocean. No joke.
However once I got past the endless fart gags and puerile humour, there was a quirky charm that kept me watching. I don’t think it would have worked at all if it wasn’t for Dano and Radcliffe. They were an entertaining pair and for a moment, I almost bought into the madness of it all.
You could empathize with Hank’s vulnerable loner as he confides in the corpse about his own personal problems. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that Radcliffe/Manny does talk. I was getting worried after 20-odd minutes that Dano was just going to be talking to a demented Radcliffe pulling some serious stroke face for 90 minutes.
The make up was actually pretty good on Radcliffe. He played a corpse well. Yeah, I can’t believe I wrote that either. His movements and facial expressions were pretty bang on.
There were genuine moments where I laughed at the pair as they tackled through the tough terrain of the wilderness to get home. Hank’s crazy creations were brilliant. It teased a little Wes Anderson vibe with all the strange gizmos and props that he made out of wreckage, rubbish and trees.
A particular highlight being a staged bus scene in which Hank simulates his chance encounter with the girl of his dreams (Mary Elizabeth Winstead – 10 Cloverfield Lane). The only problem is that the joke kind of pushed it when the pair pretended to practice a date with Hank dressing up as her. Things getting ever more uncomfortable when they started holding hands. Eurgh.
The two Dans (writer/directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) subtlety tackled some existential issues (“What is life?”) in between the farts and sex talk as Hank has to re-educate the naive and inquisitive Manny about the ways of the world.
In one scene, it was funny and clever with the journey being a metaphor for Hank overcoming his own fears and doubts and opening up about his troubled childhood. BUT then that would be completely undermined in the next sequence with something stupid and juvenile.
Cue the college humour with the pair discussing masturbation (that carried heavy Freudian undertones) and the discovery of a picture of a bikini model and Manny fighting to control the rigor mortis in his boner. Yup.
“I think your penis is guiding us home. It’s pointing north”. Make of that what you will.
I couldn’t help but laugh at the ingenious ways in which Hank would discover a new use for Manny from dispensing fresh rain water from his gut to shooting out objects like bullets to help hunt down prey. Using his arms to chop wood and his teeth to shave. NO! I’m not making this up!
It was utterly bonkers. Different, original BUT at the same stroke, weird and all over the place. The pace dragged in parts and the finale brought things to a head that left far too many questions.
And the crazy soundtrack by Andy Hull and Robert McDowell?! Was it a joke or master stroke? (Didn’t mean to rhyme). One thing can be agreed, I’ll never listen to the Jurassic Park theme in the same way again.
Winstead was completely wasted in her role. Anyone could have played her. Although her reaction in the closing moments did pretty much sum up my own feelings:
A mixed bag. I mean it got points for thinking outside of the box and its odd style was hypnotic enough to keep me watching. BUT by the end, I wasn’t sure whether I liked it or not. I still don’t know.
If that sounds intriguing to you, then go for it. IF NOT, swiftly move on.