Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a woman with many complications as we meet her just as she is leaving her engagement ring and fiancé behind to head off to a new future. We do not know what promoted this move other than an argument, but Michelle is unmoved by his plea-laden phone calls and opts to ignore them and move ahead with her life.
Things take an unexpected turn when Michelle is involved in a car crash and awakens chained to the wall in a concrete room. Her savior Howard (John Goodman) explains that he saved her life and that they are safe 40 feet below the surface following an unexpected attack which has made the world outside the bunker deadly.
This is the premise of “10 Cloverfield Lane” which teams Producer J.J. Abrams and Director Dan Trachternberg as they craft a film that is unsettling and at times hard to define.
Michelle believes that Howard is not telling her the entire truth and his flashes of anger over trivial things causes her and fellow guest Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), to fear that things are not what they seem and that they are in serious danger.
This is where the film really becomes unsettling as Howard is shown as sympathetic and sensitive yet at times terrifyingly volatile and unstable. There are numerous things that can be inferred or deduced from what they discover, but many aspects of Howard are left for the viewers to figure out for themselves as there is much truth in what he says, but there are also several omissions and misdirection.
As the tensions mount, the film plays out as taught characters piece filled with tension that keeps you guessing what is coming next.
The film does take a Hollywood style turn towards where FX and some unexpected and to some, impractical outcomes and plotlines are introduced, but it is always compelling and does keep you asking what is coming next.
The film has some interesting loose threads that do hint that a sequel could be an option should they elect to do so down the road.
Goodman and the cast are very strong and they are able to hold your attention without having to rely on fancy visuals and other tricks.
For now, the film is a tense and compelling film that aside from taking the Hollywood way out at the end is one of the more pleasant and entertaining surprises of 2016.
4 stars out of 5