10 Cloverfield Lane Parent Review

The director deftly uses techniques of cinematography rather than violence to create fear.

Overall B

After a car accident, a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up in a bomb shelter built by a stranger (John Goodman). He claims to have rescued her from a mysterious attack (nuclear war or aliens?), which means leaving his underground shelter is impossible. But is he telling the truth?

Violence C-
Sexual Content B
Profanity C-
Substance Use B-

10 Cloverfield Lane is rated PG-13 for thematic material including frightening sequences of threat with some violence, and brief language.

Movie Review

10 Cloverfield Lane is a movie shrouded in mystery. It was only announced a couple of months before it opened in theaters and was completed without the usual attention many major releases receive. Now I understand why! This movie depends a great deal on the element of surprise. And I must admit—I was surprised. Unlike the first Cloverfield that left me motion sick with its hand-held camera gimmick, this production is good old meat and potatoes filmmaking. The suspense is built by constantly manipulating our thoughts on whether or not we should trust John Goodman’s character, Howard. Is he a demented captor or a pragmatic lifesaver of a young woman rescued from a car accident?

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After she regains consciousness, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) finds herself locked in Howard’s bomb shelter. He’s been building the sanctuary for a long time and now he’s telling the frightened and vulnerable survivor that the world has been invaded by someone or something. This means they must stay inside for at least a year. Also in the bunker is a young man named Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), who claims he fought his way in after seeing a bright flash on the horizon that looked like an explosion. Howard’s gruff nature and controlling personality makes him a tough guy to have faith in, and Emmett appears a little clueless.

One thing that should be obvious though is this isn’t a title to show children or anyone who doesn’t desire a high anxiety experience. The screenplay maintains a nearly continual sense of intensity throughout. However the director deftly uses his isolated environment, subtle sound effects and a highly dramatic musical score to create this fear—as opposed to gore and violence.

That’s not to say there isn’t any concerning content onscreen. While most of the scenes feature characters engaging in psychological conflict, at times there are physical altercations. A little blood is shown and a couple of moments in the film are disturbing. We catch glimpses of decomposing human and animal bodies. Some sexual violence is implied and two profanities (one being a sexual expletive) are used. Still, the greatest cautions when considering showing this film to teen viewers will be its theme and the accompanying adrenalin rush.

Directed by a guy with only a TV episode and a couple of short films in his portfolio, I’m betting Dan Trachtenberg’s career will take off from here. With JJ Abrams producing, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a well-crafted venture is sure to leave those who enjoy a good, satisfying scare talking for a long time after they’ve seen it. And if you want to keep your thrill-seeking friends—don’t spoil the mystery for them!

Directed by Dan Trachtenberg. Starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Running time: 104 minutes. Theatrical release March 11, 2016. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in 10 Cloverfield Lane here.

10 Cloverfield Lane Parents Guide

This movie manipulates the level of trust the audience feels toward the antagonist. What techniques does it use to keep us in suspense and unsure of our feelings toward Howard? How is our faith in others sometimes challenged in reality? What clues do you look for to determine if someone is trustworthy?

How does the characters’ confined situation contribute to the suspense? What is Howard’s attitude about having to live in the shelter? Is living in a shelter like the one depicted here something you would want to do if there was a major attack? What problems would you face after emerging months or years later?

The creators of this movie exploit a huge assumption most of us hold when viewing entertainment. Can you identify what that preconceived notion is?

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