Michelle is run off the road and awakens in a bunker with her leg chained to the wall. She was “saved” by Howard, a large man who is a terrible combination of socially awkward and not-so-vaguely threatening. He explains that there has been an attack and the air outside is contaminated. Do we believe him, or is that just something he said so that she wouldn’t try to escape from the bunker?
There is also another man in the bunker by the name of Emmett, who seems like a good guy and believes Howard, although he thinks some of his theories of what exactly is happening are a little nuts. Aliens? That’s crazy. YOU’RE crazy.
I set up quite a bit in the synopsis, so let’s go off of that.
This movie moves in waves. Michelle is our proxy. Do we believe Howard? Is there really something going on outside? We find out pretty early on that there is, indeed, something contaminating the air. So now we kind of trust Howard…right? Maybe? Just when I started to feel like things were going well, I began to panic because I knew it wasn’t going to be quite that easy. And I was right. Man, I’m smart. Why am I so smart?
This is a small movie. We basically have three characters: Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Howard (John Goodman) and Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.). With a movie this small, it’s critical that the actors all bring their A game, and they certainly did that. All the characters were extremely well-developed and the actors knocked it out of the park. Goodman was the standout – I’ve never seen him in a role quite like this – but Winstead and Gallagher were incredible as well. Stellar performances from everyone.
When Prometheus came out (which I enjoyed…shut-up) I loved how it was a movie that existed in the Alien universe, yet was a completely different story. I never put much thought into the fact that, while these major events were happening in this movie, there were a bunch of other events happening, either before or after, that may-or-may-not be closely related. The comic series Gotham Central does a great job with this in terms of the DC Universe. The events of Cloverfield were not held to Manhattan, and this gives us a chance to see how other areas were affected. It’s a great concept and terrific execution.
Bradley Cooper is listed as being in this, but you never see him. He’s merely the voice on the other end of the phone. Which is perfect. He has a face for radio. (I kid, I kid. You’re very handsome. Please call me.)