10 Cloverfield Lane is a well done, tightly wound thriller

Timothy Page, Movie Critic

*Minor plot spoilers ahead* 

10 Cloverfield Lane didn’t exist until about two-and-a-half months ago. By that, I mean that this film was kept so tightly under wraps that when a teaser trailer dropped sometime mid-January, it was the first time anyone outside of production had heard about it. The story had also been kept secret too, but for the sake of review purposes, I’ll give you the basic story line.

While Michelle, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) is driving out of the city she gets into a car accident and is knocked unconscious. She then wakes up handcuffed to a pipe in a concrete room, undressed. That’s when a man named Howard, played by John Goodman tells her that she was in a car accident while she was unconscious, he had saved her from “an attack” by taking her to his underground bunker where he and another man named Emmett were already residing. Howard tells them that the air outside is unbreathable and it might be one to two years before they can go outside again. That’s all I’ll say about this movie’s plot, but know the tension that this movie builds is almost unbearable at times.

Also, know that this isn’t a direct sequel to the “found footage” original that was released in 2008. Producer J.J. Abrams says it’s a “Blood relative to the original film.” The first Cloverfield was shaky and very non-stop in its intensity when it got going. This film stays very subdued and is locked down. So there’s no handheld looking shots and it gives you a very good sense of the small space these people are in and the fact that one of them might not have their best interest in mind. It has its tense moments but it’s also a much slower build to those moments. So when they hit, they hit hard.

The performances here are all fantastic. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is the lead and every thought, every fear, every plan is shown on her face for the audience to see. John Gallagher Jr. (Short Term 12) is Emmett and he does great but the real stand out here is John Goodman. Howard is a big, scary man and when he stands in a doorway or really anywhere in this small confined space, you get the sense that this man could take these two people out easily if he wanted to. His emotions flip around that it makes everything Howard does unpredictable. It’s probably one of the best performances John Goodman has put out in a long time and I loved it.

The only issue I had with this film was its ending. I’m not saying anything, but it left me a bit cold. Still, 10 Cloverfield Lane is an incredibly intense film that had me on the edge of my seat even when they were just sitting around and eating dinner. The Cloverfield addition to the title felt a bit tacked on to get people in the theater, but if this is a start to an anthology of well-made Sci-Fi films, sign me up. 10 Cloverfield Lane is the first movie this year I’d say is a must see.

Rating 4.5/5: The end left me a bit cold, but fantastic acting, directing and writing drive this movie. Making the end product immensely satisfying and thrilling.