10 Cloverfield Lane

The story of 10 Cloverfield Lane is revealed to the viewer slowly from the point of view of the protagonist, and the less you know upfront, the more effective this technique will be. The filmmakers agree: The trailers show little more than basic framing of the movie’s first act. Even the Blu-ray Disc menu doesn’t reveal anything, making this the rare disc that doesn’t ruin the movie’s climactic scenes before you even press Play. Describing the video and audio necessitates describing some plot elements, so before we get to that, what follows is a completely spoiler-free summary.

10 Cloverfield Lane was made by the same production team as the 2008 film Cloverfield, but it is not a sequel. There’s no need to see Cloverfield first. J.J. Abrams, the film’s producer, describes this as “a Twilight Zone idea.” That’s about right, though some Twilight Zone episodes were merely thought-provoking, while 10 Cloverfield Lane fully earns its PG-13 rating. There’s a lot of tension, the audience dis- covers the truth of characters and situations only as the protagonist does, and just when you think you know where the movie is going, it shifts directions. The acting is superb. I loved it. If at all possible, watch it in a pitch-black room, on a large screen, and with a good Dolby Atmos system.

1016clover.box.jpgThe opening mournful notes of the score swell into a quiet dread, uninterrupted by dialogue or Foley effects for the first few minutes as the main character leaves her apartment. On an Atmos system, the score swells up from the front speakers into the overhead and side surrounds, reaching out to the viewer. The effect is to make the dread seep out of the screen and into the room. This is followed by reams of unsettling low bass, rolling in waves around the room at rising volumes. We may not know much, but it’s clear that whatever is in store for this woman is not good.

Shortly afterwards, the Atmos track’s superb dynamic range and object-oriented sound/ceiling speakers are both used to great effect: Our protagonist’s car gets hit, suddenly, and sound rotates around the room vertically—as the car rolls, it sounds like you’re rolling with her. If you have good subwoofers, it also feels like you’re rolling with her. Much of the story shifts to an underground bunker where sound is used more traditionally, though it goes without saying that when things happen above the bunker, having sounds coming out of your home theater’s ceiling adds to the experience.

Image quality on the disc is clean and detailed, highlighting the delib- erate use of lighting: warm for some characters/rooms, cold for others. Unlike Cloverfield, which was intended to mimic shaky camcorder footage, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a traditional, third-person Steadicam movie. The cinematographer does frequently shift the focus within a scene, which allows longer shots while pointing the viewer’s eye to specific story elements.

Extras include a director’s commentary and a handful of informative featurettes. One segment confirmed my suspicion that the composer used a unique cello-and-bass orchestra for a portion of the score that sounds like an analog version of The Dark Knight’s propulsive theme. A DVD and Digital Copy of the movie are included. In a nice touch, a Digital Copy of the original Cloverfield is included as well.

Studio: Paramount, 2016
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio Format: Dolby Atmos / True HD 7.1 core
Length: 103 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.