This is a confined narrative that takes place somewhere in Texas. The story follows a woman named Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who finds herself tied up an an underground bunker with two other men after a car accident left her unconscious. Howard (played by John Goodman) a man holding Michelle and the other man in his bunker, informs her that a massive chemical attack has altered the air to the point where it is unbreathable, and the only hope of survival is to stay put for one or two years. Even with the comforts of the bunker, a yearning to escape engulfs Micheles motives after Howard’s menacing presence is felt.
I really enjoyed how confined the scope of the film was, it laid a foundation that demanded the characters to be fleshed out. This is a character story, and it plays out well because of the well written characters. I thought John Goodman’s was very well contrasted with the usual conspiracy theory lunatic characters that are typically in high budget films. His character really believed in the problems he conspired about and felt human. His character was the type of villain I enjoy in films; which is the type that doesn’t realize they are one. John Goodman’s performance stood out to me, even though the others were very well done, he was just more vital to the story. Without a great performance of his character, the narrative would have fallen apart. The main question of the story is that; is Howard being protective and is right about the outside world or is he a crazy individual who is keeping two people captive. The actor who played this role had to contrast the reasonable person with the menacing creature, to maintain the question in the audience’s mind, to sustain their attention. Goodman does just this.
The cinematography was perfect for this movie as well. Nothing felt out of place (this can be said about the editing as well for this movie). The camera always followed the narrative (which flowed throughout the film. At no point did I feel I was watching an unnecessary scene, except for the end, but we’ll get to that later). The camera angles captured the true emotion of the characters and the motives. One particular scene that I believe displays this was the scene that was between the man who was captive and Michelle. They were both sitting with their backs towards the wall between them and were describing their past regrets. This scene hasn’t only progressed the story very well, and the lighting was dim resembling the grim circumstances, the close camera shot captured the emotion of the scene.
SPOILERS (kind of) BEYOND THIS POINT…
So on to something that bothered me a bit. The ending of the story felt a little out of place with accordance of how the rest of the story played out. The ending reminded of what Hollywood is now. It transitioned into a larger scope, a sci-fi thriller, when the rest of the movie was confined and felt more like an independent film. I understand what they were doing; we have to give the audience the bang for the buck, but it could’ve really ended when she escaped from the bunker. I think they were also trying to magnify the fact that her character has gone full circle; in the way that in the beginning of the story she ran from her problems, but she now faces her problems head on but this circle for me was established really at the point where she decided to plan to escape. I also thought that maybe the producers (J.J., You’re awesome) were trying to tie the story to the Cloverfield movie that was made back in 2008, which is possible. Regardless of the ending, the movie was very well written, the performances were very well played, and the direction was well done. I’m going to give this movie an: “A.” Just on a side note, I enjoyed how I knew very little about the movie going into this. The marketing scheme was very well done, something that J.J. Abrams’ has become a master at.