10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) – Film Review

You can’t handle the truth!


10 Cloverfield Lane is directed by Dan Trachtenberg in what is his full length film debut.  Behind the scenes is Bad Robot with JJ Abrams on board as one of the producers.  This project isn’t a sequel to Cloverfield (2008) but plays in the same mystery sandbox so this could be the first of a series of low budget productions with a similar influence.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a young lady called Michelle who we first meet abandoning her apartment and hitting the open road before a car accident leaves her unconscious.  She awakens in a concrete room chained to a makeshift bed where she meets Howard (John Goodman) the builder of what turns out to be an underground shelter.  He tells her there has been an attack and they can’t go outside because the air is unsafe.

95% of the film takes place within the bunker and the movie majors on the character of Howard and whether he is a genuine do-gooder who pulled Michelle from a car wreck or a dangerous lunatic.  There is a third inhabitant of the bunker called Emmett (John Gallagher Jnr) who helps to fill in some of the pieces of the puzzle but the film works hard to keep you guessing to the end.  I had my suspicions but even I didn’t get it entirely right!    The tone shifts from girl in danger to settled family unit (and back again) with Goodman as the star following on from great work in films such as Argo (2012) confirming he has left Roseanne far behind him.  I’m obviously not going to give the ending away but my head exploded as the answer was revealed which truth be told will work for some but not for others.

10 Cloverfield Lane has gone from a film I didn’t know was coming out to being one of my favourites of the year so far.  It is a fantastic example of what can be done within a limited environment and relatively small cast.  In that regard it follows the tradition of something like Alien (1979) that relied on a people stuck in a spaceship and the feeling there was no escape.  This film isn’t as good as Alien (then how many films are?) but it strikes many of the right chords.  My rating 4/5.


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