After getting in a car accident, a woman is held in a shelter with two men, who claim the outside world is affected by a widespread chemical attack.
’10 Cloverfield Lane’ is a superbly tense thriller, built on a claustrophobic atmosphere, excellent direction and a trio of pitch perfect performances, until the last fifteen minutes when much of that goodwill is squandered to tie the film into another to make this a sequel of sorts. That film was ‘Cloverfield’, the 2008 found footage monster movie, and the decision to tie this film (previously titled ‘Valencia’) into its events is misguided at best and commercially greedy at worst. The point where the film ‘ends’ and the ‘Cloverfield’ connection begins is clear to see and it’s a wildly unnecessary diversion in an otherwise terrific piece of entertainment. Fifteen minutes don’t make a movie though and the way ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ pans out makes it possible to imagine a far better ending that would have fitted the way the film had developed to that point.
The film begins with Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), as she sets off on a car journey through rural Louisiana after breaking up with her boyfriend. Clearly distracted, she’s involved in a car accident and wakes up a short time later in an underground bunker where her ‘captor’, Howard (John Goodman), claims he saved her and brought her in for her own safety after the country was hit by a chemical attack. The clever way the script approaches this setting is that whilst it’s clear that Howard is a conspiracy theorist, it also entertains the notion that Howard may actually be right on this occasion and it successfully plays into our fears around terrorism. The twisty script keeps you guessing throughout about the true nature of the threat outside, as well as the motives of the three main characters and its great fun watching the characters dance around each other. The performances are pretty great throughout and combined with the precise and measured direction from Dan Trachtenberg, help to maintain a healthy level of suspense and intrigue throughout the film.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is our main viewpoint and she expertly balances a range of emotions as her character’s view on the situation constantly changes, whilst John Goodman is perfectly cast as Howard, bringing a level of gravitas and charisma that make it difficult to fully gauge what his motives are. John Gallagher Jr is the third member of the main cast and he’s mainly there to provide comic relief, which he does well. ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ makes the most of its confined setting to tell its gripping and engrossing story, and whilst it’s hard to fully wipe away the ridiculous final act from the memory, it doesn’t detract too much from the overall experience and this is a hugely entertaining movie.
Directed By: Dan Trachtenberg
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr