NOT so much a relative to 2008’s Cloverfield as it is a companion piece, producer J.J. Abrams brings a similarly themed try-to-survive thriller with 10 Cloverfield Lane that would serve as a trendy double feature.
An impressively restrained opening introduces us to Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) as she frantically packs a bag to leave her city apartment while taking a distressing call from her partner Ben.
We are not exactly sure of the nature of the drama as it is played out with music the only audio we can hear, but while driving through a rural area a car ploughs into hers and she is sent tumbling down the side of a hill.
She wakes up in a bunker with Howard (John Goodman), who built it, and Emmett (John Gallagher Jr), who is also taking shelter from the disaster that Howard says rages outside.
Michelle is held against her will and determined to escape, unconvinced of Howard’s story about the apocalyptic situation beyond the padlocked heavy duty doors.
Is he telling the truth or is it the paranoid ramblings of an unhinged individual?
The beauty in 10 Cloverfield Lane is that any outcome is possible, which makes for a terrifying film.
Do you face what is happening outside and fight for survival on your own terms or share a safe haven with someone you simply cannot trust?
Comparisons to Alien series heroine Ellen Ripley are inevitable as Michelle is a flawed but tough and resourceful heroine and Winstead, who has dabbled in similar roles in the horror genre, fits the criteria perfectly.
Michelle is a woman who usually runs from conflict and Winstead’s transition from passive to active is flawless.
The skilled actor, who broke from the scream queen mould with her dramatic turn in Smashed, balances the vulnerable with the capable.
Goodman gives a chilling performance as the creepy Howard, his random angry outbursts made more terrifying in comparison to his otherwise quiet and deadpan delivery.
The final act takes a turn, feels like something out of another film completely and does not quite mesh with the restraint and skilled tension building of what has come before, but we are so attached to Michelle and her fight for survival that it is not a total bust.
A testament to scriptwriters Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken and Damien Chazelle, the resolution is character-driven rather than as a twist for shock value or a sequel set-up, which is a refreshing and satisfying way to wrap up.
10 Cloverfield Lane (M)
Directed by: Dan Trachtenberg
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.
Review by: Julian Wright
In cinemas now