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Film review: 10 Cloverfield Lane

Film & TV

This new thriller from producer JJ Abrams begins with a young woman waking up in a cold cement room after being involved in a car accident that left her unconscious.

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Michelle learns she was “rescued” by a man named Howard who claims that the world outside their underground bunker has been hit by a chemical attack.

Unable to accept that everyone she knew is dead, she struggles to adapt to her new life with Howard and fellow survivor Emmett, and as tensions rise between the three she hatches a daring plan to escape. But life above ground may not be how Michelle remembered.

Directed by Dan Trachtenberg, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a blend of sci-fi and psychological thriller that follows producer Abrams’ 2008 found-footage horror film Cloverfield.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead delivers a strong performance as Michelle, while John Gallagher Jnr plays Emmett. But it’s John Goodman who steals the show, delivering an intensely unnerving performance as stern survivalist Howard – a man whose precarious grasp on reality is tested by his ongoing confinement.

Goodman’s appearance lends itself perfectly to this character and his ability to switch between emotional extremes creates a menacing individual. As the movie progresses, Howard’s mindset deteriorates rapidly, with potentially deadly consequences for Michelle and Emmett. The friction between the three is frightening and uncomfortable.

Special effects bring the film’s few action scenes to life in explosive detail, but overall this is a movie that relies more on tension than excitement, and this reviewer would have preferred to see a little less of the bunker and a little more of what was taking place above ground.

Although 10 Cloverfield Lane is a stand-alone story, there are connections between it and the original Cloverfield, and the somewhat predictable ending should not come as a surprise to fans.

 

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