10 Cloverfield Lane Review with Stixen Stones

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Stixen’s Spoiler-Free Review

A young, formidable woman is abducted by a possible psychopath and a handsome hick and is forced to live with them in an underground bunker due to an apparent attack on the world above. However, not everything may be as it appears. Above the surface and below. She must discover the truth and escape, but is the world above safe from attack? Even if that means these acts could possibly be coming from ET’s gross (and obviously angry) cousins?

Moderate Spoilers Lurk Beyond This Point

What were your thoughts going into the movie vs. coming out?

Stixen: Well, going in. I was expecting a brief psychological drama with a heavy sci-fi plot line- since I knew it was connected with Cloverfeild. But, leaving, I was a ball of stress. I’m still stressed out, if we’re being honest. The psychological drama was almost too much for me. What were your thoughts?

It was definitely one of those films that leaves you wanting to hug your loved ones and eat some ice cream. I wasn’t expecting the bunker story to be quite so convoluted, to be honest.

Stixen: In what way?

I expected it to serve as a glorified entrance for the aliens, but the aliens were more like a garnish for the drama below ground. It wasn’t a single-twist adventure. We had to make quite a few turns before the story even began to approach escape.

Stixen: It’s interesting that it was marketed as an alien film but for me, the most intense part was the drama in the bunker. And I think that was ten times more frightening then the aliens.

Oh, yeah. By the time we get to the aliens, Michelle is a verified badass and the tension has effectively peaked.

Stixen: I had to say, she was certainly very knowledgeable about survival techniques. Throughout the film there were so many times were I just was like “Well, I would’ve never known to do that.”

Same, but they did give a good reason in her discussion about her father. Children from physically abusive families have to learn some kind of survival skills in order to reach adulthood. Finding herself in such a dysfunctional “family” setting probably triggered a lot of instincts.

Stixen: Very true! I really enjoyed that part of the backstory. Often times, I feel like writers inject characters with traumatic experiences like that it doesn’t make sense or it feels organic. But, it felt incredibly organic with her. The story she told about seeing the girl being abused in the grocery store was very real. And I thought that element of abuse really added to the dynamics in this film between Michelle and Howard. It was very evident between the two of them in their scenes.

I will say, as a credit to all three of the principle actors, they all had so many shades within their characters which added to the complexities of their relationships with each other. It really created tension and kept us as an audience guessing.

Limited as their time onscreen was, what did you think of the aliens?

Stixen: Like I said to you in the theatre, they looked like dog anus’s to me. Which is a real shame because the original Cloverfield alien was really cool. I never saw the film, but I can’t tell you how many times I Googled “Cloverfield alien” to try and get a good look at it. Monsters and aliens have always been a special obsession of mine, because they’re often times metaphorical representations of our own insecurities, fears, etc. So, it was disappointing to see a film that gave us aliens that weren’t very frightening or original.

Indeed. The idea seemed to be that humans were scarier than the monsters, and that’s a worthwhile point, but it’s always disappointing when you don’t get the aliens you ordered. We wanted a spider-shaped Godzilla. We got a Hutt.

Stixen: Agreed. I know it’s hard, especially as a designer, to create new concepts for creatures like aliens. It’s like trying to re-invent the wheel. It often times feels like it’s all been done before. But why not give the aliens more of a sense of culture and origin? Those black scaly creatures felt really anonymous- and maybe that’s part of the problem. I say, give me details. Make a language for them, put their writings on their ships- give them armor, give them specific physical qualities and personas because even fresh cultures have a sense of identity and that’s what was missing for me.

The question, of course, is: would we recognize an alien culture if we saw one?

Stixen: I think so! I think it’s easy to notice when something has a history behind it. Even if it’s not a history you recognize or can make sense of. It’s all in the details.

Maybe. Speaking of details: you say you can always find the drag in the film.

Stixen: I sure can! The drag in this film was definitely the main character making her own haz-mat suit.

A rubber ducky hazmat suit. It was delightful.

Stixen: I know! I have half a mind to make one myself!

I feel a cosplay coming on.

Official Heel Rating:

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I give it four heels. I can’t say it was enjoyable- but it certainly left an impression and kept me on the edge of my seat.

M. Leigh Hood is a rare beast of the Cincinnati wilderness typically preoccupied with writing, nerding, and filming The Spittoon List. For more articles and stories by M. Leigh Hood, look HERE.

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