I went into 10 Cloverfield Lane knowing very little. I haven’t seen Cloverfield and was told that this experience would be even better for me if viewed as a standalone film. A comment that I now largely agree with.
Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), is leaving her boyfriend for some reason. She has a car accident, and wakes up trapped in a scary cellar. John Goodman plays Howard, who tells her he rescued her before the attackers made the air outside totally poisonous. She meets one other roommate down in the cellar, and tried to cope with the alarming and uncertain situation.
That’s it. That’s pretty much the whole film.
By keeping things this simple, the claustraphobia sets in fairly quickly, and we have little choice but to spend time getting all the same suspicions and beats as Michelle about what’s really going on.
That is literally the whole film. It’s a wonderful psychological thriller leaving you guessing and uncertain every couple of minutes. It never moves too quickly or too slowly, and allows you to second guess everyone as the film and mystery unfolds.
The film’s main flaw is that it is what it is. Defining itself as part of the Cloverfield world (“blood relative” is the way the marketing / publicity has described it) is flawed. It weighs itself under the expectations and connatations, and whilst this doesn’t take effect until the climax, it slightly loses its suspense as a result.
A stronger release than most in recent weeks, with utterly brilliant leading performances from John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, but more substance would’ve been achieved through a bolder and more self-contained piece.