Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a woman on the run from an abusive relationship, when she gets into a car accident. She wakes up in a bomb shelter, handcuffed to the radiator. The man who handcuffed her is named Howard. (John Goodman) Howard tells Michelle that there has been some kind of chemical or biological strike against the U.S. and he’s rescued her and brought her to his basement to save her. Howard gives her the keys to the handcuffs, and while exploring the shelter, she also meets Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) who actually fought to get in the shelter after seeing red beams from the sky and seeing explosions. Emmett helped Howard build the shelter and is completely comfortable living in the shelter with Howard. Michelle, however, is not comfortable with the regimented, quick tempered Howard, and she is less comfortable with him the more she learns about him. She wants to escape, does Emmett help her?
10 Cloverfield Lane is a suspenseful character study for about one hour and 20 minutes. Little details emerge about each character as the suspense build. I also like how Winstead’s character evolves from a woman running from dange r to a woman ready to face whatever is in front of her. There is just the right amount of comedy to break up the tension. As long as it stays with the three main characters, it is a focused, tension-filled, thrill-ride of a movie. The last 25 minutes gets sloppy with the details, and a big reveal, but overall, this is a pretty good suspense thriller. I had low expectations given JJ Abrams’ similarly titled Cloverfield, but this story goes in a totally different and more satisfying direction.
John Goodman is one of the best character actors making movies today, and he just enriches that opinion with this role. He plays the obsessive compulsive, survivalist, with a “black belt in conspiracy theories” with absolute ease. He modulates his voice in the beginning of the movie making it higher and thinner than usual, and then the voice drops, and it is masterful. Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives her character lots of complexity, and makes the character’s transition believable. She also switches from the comedic scenes to the dramatic scenes with ease, and that’s not easy. John Gallagher Jr. is mostly in the film for comedy relief, but is effective in that capacity.
The director is not well-known, but he achieves the necessary claustrophobic feeling to heighten the suspense, and keeps the pacing going strong. He gets great performances from the cast, and shoots the film from some interesting angles.
10 Cloverfield Lane: A great performance from a Good-man.