A young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) driving cross country is involved in a car accident. When she wakes in a strange room, she is told by Howard (John Goodman) that America has been subject to a chemical weapons attack, and she is now safely inside his underground bomb shelter. With an extremely tenuous connection to 2008's monster smash' em up Cloverfield, what begins with an intriguing premise gradually evolves into a tightly claustrophobic thriller, and is definitely a dish that is best served cold. The movie had one of the more effective trailers of 2016 - not too mention brilliant use of an 80s pop 'classic' - and knowing very little about the narrative should equate to a vastly more rewarding viewing experience.
Making his feature length debut, director Dan Trachtenberg (aided and abetted by producer JJ Abrams) makes the most of the relatively brisk running time to ratchet up the tension until it reaches breaking point by the final act. Essentially an ensemble three hander between the trio of lead characters, the main nucleus of 10 Cloverfield Lane's plot could easily work as a stage play. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is one of the more interesting actresses currently working in Hollywood - why she isn't a bigger star is a mystery. As Michelle, Winstead displays her range by appearing initially vulnerable, but later developing a feisty determination as she resolves to find a solution to her predicament. If there had to be a reboot of Alien, then Winstead would be an ideal candidate for Ellen Ripley. John Gallagher Jr. Is not an actor I'm familiar with, but he is equally good as the apparently oafish Emmett. However, and probably not unexpectedly, it is John Goodman that steals the show as the survivalist Howard. Whether it be his bemusement at Michelle's (understandable) mistrust, eating dinner together at the table, or the three playing a Charades-esque game; Goodman's gargantuan presence is always keenly felt. To say any more would be massively spoiling, so let's say you can safely dispel any memories of Sully from Monsters Inc.
However, despite an impressive feature debut by Trachtenberg , and uniformly strong performances by its cast, there are some niggles with 10 Cloverfield Lane that should be addressed. Although the narrative is (thematically) about the journey of Winstead's character - there are certain parts of the movie's plot that doesn't bear close scrutiny, with holes that could fit a Cloverfield sized creature in. The jury is also still out on the film's denouement - there will probably be as many perplexed and disappointed with the climax, as there are those who are able to just go with it. Personally, I am of the latter category, but it would have also been interesting to see theoriginally scripted ending.bleaker