starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.
screenplay by Josh Campbell & Matt Stuecken and Damien Chazelle
directed by Dan Trachtenberg
by Walter Chaw I don't believe that art ever occurs in a vacuum. I believe that movies, no matter their relative quality, speak to the time in which they were created, eloquently or accidentally--sometimes both. In that context, Dan Trachtenberg's 10 Cloverfield Lane, the follow-up to Matt Reeves's badly-underestimated Cloverfield (which itself pairs with Spike Lee's 25th Hour as the best elegies for 9/11 New York (Reeves's film even more in some ways, in its emulation of Japan's kaiju cycle)), is about the way the frightening underbelly of paranoid American fanaticism has suddenly gained legitimacy and voice in the mainstream. When speaking mournfully of his estranged daughter and how his wife has taken her away from him, survivalist Howard (John Goodman) mutters that some people just can't understand what's in the best interest of their survival. He's shut himself in an underground bunker with the bunker's architect, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), like some Egyptian Pharaoh, girding himself against an apocalypse that may or may not be personal. He's also "abducted" a young woman passing by, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), though Howard would say he saved her from the end of the world. His plan, see, is that the three of them wait out the fallout from whatever seismic event did or didn't happen, as a makeshift family. No touching.