J.J. Abrams is no stranger to secrecy so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he and his company Bad Robot were able to produce the non sequel film blood relative (in the Star Wars director’s own words) to 2008’s Cloverfield without anyone finding out in advance by shooting under the title Valencia. Directed by first time director Dan Trachtenberg, 10 Cloverfield Lane stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle, who after a car wreck awakes in a bunker with a pistol strapped hulking man named Howard (John Goodman) and local yokel Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.). Her bunk mates inform her of an attack on the country and demand she must never venture outside the bunker or face certain doom.
Even though 10 Cloverfield Lane was deemed a spiritual successor in the CFU (Cloverfield Film Universe) by Abrams, this new film stands on its own and it’s not a necessity to see the prior film. Although if you have seen Cloverfield, it will ramp up the questions in your mind whether everything is connected in the stories or are you looking too hard into it trying to decide whether our players’ beliefs are real. Mary Elizabeth Winstead serves as the audiences’ point of view and does an excellent job conveying the confusion, fear and paranoia her character feels as the film progresses. The audience is her passenger on this wild roller coaster ride that never leaves the bunker.
Winstead delivers one of the best performances of her career in 10 Cloverfield Lane, but what drives the film is the incredible work done by the underrated John Goodman as doomsday prepare Howard. Goodman does such a magnificent job at keeping the audience on the edge of their seat and left in the dark about his motivations. Goodman is so intense and weird at times that he will make you hold your breath and squirm in your seat. Howard is definitely a character that sticks with you because of the validity Goodman brings to the role of an unstable man who was prepared in the shadow of criticism.
10 Cloverfield Lane drops the shaky cam and city smashing giant monster in favor of superb acting and intense story telling with a slow, but very rewarding burn in terms of the final outcome. Rookie director Dan Trachtenberg under the guidance of J.J. Abrams, channels his inner Hitchcock with the psychological scares and the movie has a feel of The Twilight Zone presenting a grand idea hidden in a small package in terms of budget, which was an estimated $15 million dollars. For those looking for spoilers, do yourself a favor and avoid them. It will ruin the whole experience of the film. The payoff at the end of 10 Cloverfield Lane will be plenty worth it and allow your imagination to run wild after the credits have rolled.
Overall, I give 10 Cloverfield Lane 3.25 out of 4 stars.