Directed by Dan Trachtenberg
Written by Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, Damien Chazelle
Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.
Two young people find themselves in a bunker in an uncomfortable living situation. Their domineering host claims to be providing them shelter from a deadly attack above ground.
This movie is the creation of writers Josh Campbell (4 Minute Mile), Matthew Stuecken (The Tower of Babble), and Damien Chazelle (Whiplash). This was the first feature film directed by Dan Trachtenberg (Kickin’). The cast includes John Goodman (Inside Llewyn Davis), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (A Good Day to Die Hard), and John Gallagher Jr. (Jonah Hex).
This story is a mix of genres including science-fiction, thriller, and drama. The story doesn’t waste a lot of time on setup, choosing to jump into the action as soon as possible. The specifics of the story are hazy throughout the movie, which allows the movie to freely explore a number of concepts and ideas. The dialogue is one of the best aspects of the film, giving the actors some great moments. The dialogue is also used sparingly, which allows for the action and the unspoken ideas to really stand out. This one also does a good job maintaining a high level of energy and suspense throughout the film. There are also some twists that lead to fantastic payoffs. This does have some weaknesses. The need for mystery can sometimes overwhelm the experience. Without some good performances this might have felt a bit campy. It’s not a great story, but it’s a solid one that shouldn’t disappoint.
The acting in this one is very good, especially from John Goodman. This film allowed him to prove once more that he’s got a lot to offer. His performance really creates the bulk of the tension and conflict in the movie. The beauty is that this is done without being a typical antagonist. Instead of forcing the tension, he finds ways to bring out the uncomfortable nature of many moments in the story. He’s joined by two talented people in this movie. Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. both do nice work throughout this one. Winstead plays most of her role with a quiet strength. This makes the action all the more exciting when she’s in the mix. Gallagher also does a good job with an interesting role. These three stars all worked well together and elevated this material a ton.
This movie makes the most of the claustrophobic setting. The camera work and set design create a world where the characters are often right on top of one another. The lighting and color scheme also add to the tension throughout the movie. Along with the rest of the visual aspects of the movie, this one looks pretty great. The sound work also does everything necessary to bring this one to life. The score, composed by Bear McCreary (The Forest), accents the movie nicely. The film also benefits from some classic popular music that adds to the tone of the film.
This is a very interesting movie that builds on a number of well-used ideas. The twists turn many of those ideas into something fresh and fun. If you’re a fan of suspense or thrillers; this is one you should check out. This will also work for fans of science-fiction. I would also encourage fans of the stars to check this one out. I give this one 3.4 out of 5 stars.