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Friday, March 18, 2016

Soundtrack Review: #10CloverfieldLane

10 Cloverfield Lane boldly digs its alien thriller claws into us and won't let go.

Review by Matt Cummings

If you've seen 10 Cloverfield Lane - and we hope this review will help to convince you - it might already be clear why the thing is such a hit. Central to its success is the score by Battlestar Galactica Composer Bear McCreary, who creates a fabulously haunting and creepy experience that's as every bit as good as the movie.

Having just left her boyfriend (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) finds her life is once again in pieces as she pumps gas at a lonely station. Soon, her life takes an unexpected turn, as she's hit by another car, sending hers tumbling off the road. She awakens to a busted up knee and chained to the wall in an undisclosed location, courtesy of her captor Howard (John Goodman). He informs Michelle that an attack has occurred above his bunker, and that his kindness is the only reason why she's still alive. Soon, Michelle learns that Howard has another guest: the genial Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr), whose blind appreciation of Howard's idiosyncrasies actually cover up for something more sinister lurking inside their benefactor. As the three settle down for a long stay-cation in the airtight bunker, Michelle begins to worry that Howard's violent tendencies aren't the only secret he's keeping about the outside world. She must battle a twisting road of reveals and decide whether her future includes living in such a repressive situation.

Producer J.J. Abrams made everyone do a double-take when the trailer was released just weeks ago, essentially hiding the project under a false name. The same goes for McCreary's score, which digs deeply into its best parts, weaving a haunting theme with exciting orchestral movements and unique sound effects. From its first track Michelle, we understand the creepiness and double-guessing that will soon face our lead as she tries desperately to decide whether her captor Howard's world is to be believed That sort of paranoia sinks deeply into Cloverfield, permeating through a goodly collection of tracks. Among my favorite is Hazmat Suit, a tension-filled electronic opening that moves deftly into a pulsing string pursuit. And as mentioned, McCreary injects Hazmat a tiny trace of the theme. It's one of several bigger tracks - along with Valencia - that I will be adding into my playlist.

There's also a few setup pieces like A Happy Family and sprinkled in for good measure, but many of these employ the same care before moving back into the bigger musical pieces. I also really liked Up Above, not because it's such a good thriller, but because it's so different than the rest of McCreary's offerings. It's got this beautifully happy opening, before descending back into darkness and employing a fabulous collection of sound effects which rip the track apart. Then, it moves back into its happy place. I love such shifts in music, because you can never tell where the sound will ultimately go. It was a joy I experienced with both score and movie.

In the end, 10 Cloverfield Lane: Music from the Motion Picture adds to the melancholy and wholy uncomfortable world which made the film such a surprise. But I will admit that it's an experience best enjoyed by those who can appreciate what McCreary is trying to do here. He's not out to make a big splash, just confuse the world we've entered with pulsing tones, imagined good times, and eventually a dark and powerful reveal at film's end. Seen through those lenses, it becomes easy to understand why this one is a surefire winner. 10 Cloverfield Lane is now available everywhere.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.


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