A woman wakes up after a car accident to find herself trapped in an underground bunker.
I’m going to try to keep things as spoiler free as possible for 10 Cloverfield Lane, and you’d also do well to avoid the trailers if you want to get the most out of the experience.
Right from the off, this isn’t really a Cloverfield film. Sure the name is right there in the title and producer J.J. Abrams has been spouting off the words ‘spiritual successor’ in recent weeks but the fact is the film was written and planned without any connection to the original sci-fi flick, with any similar elements added late in the game.
That’s not really overly important – the name might get more bums in seats which was the entire point in the first place. And the good news is that those bums, and the brains attached, will probably have a good deal of fun.
10 Cloverfield Lane is a stripped back thriller of confinement, with a tiny cast, some nicely drawn out tension and a nice interplay between potential madness and a very real threat lurking just outside the bunker.
Those two aspects are brought to life wonderfully by John Goodman, who easily steals the show here. His huge frame coupled with the crazy story he has to tell makes him an instantly sinister character but there are layers to the story here, and twists and turns as we learn more about the reality outside.
Lead Mary Elizabeth Winstead can’t compete with Goodman’s acting chops but manages to be a mostly active heroine, though she’s not so great at the emotional stuff. And third fiddle John Gallagher jr is pretty much forgettable.
It’s all very slickly directed be newcomer Dan Trachtenberg, with few stylistic flourishes and a fairly workmanline result. That’s a sign of the low budget as much as any filmmaking failings, and should ensure a tidy profit at the box office.
10 Cloverfield Lane is a bit of fun, with some keen thriller aspects and a few twists that you might see coming from a mile off. It’s perfect Friday night fare, just don’t expect it to be Cloverfield 2.