To answer your first question, this film has little in
common with Cloverfield, despite the
involvement of producer J.J. Abrams and others connected with that inventive
and genuinely frightening film. For one thing, this is not a “found footage”
movie, but a thriller with horror and science-fiction elements. But it does
have its fair share of scary moments and an eminently workable premise.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead has just broken up with her
boyfriend and is driving away into the countryside when she’s involved in a
catastrophic car crash. When she awakens, she’s in a cinder-block bunker with
an IV in her arm. The man who rescued her, John Goodman, turns out to be her
captor. He is a survivalist who has prepared this underground shelter for the
doomsday he has always foreseen and now, he says, it has arrived. Winstead
isn’t the only one imprisoned there: a young man who helped build the bunker (John
Gallagher, Jr.) is also on hand.
Naturally, Winstead wants to escape, but what if Goodman is
telling the truth and there has been an attack that has poisoned the air
In his debut feature, director Dan Trachtenberg plays all
his cards right, building tension through a series of thriller tropes, some of
them bordering on cliché but still
pretty effective. His strongest asset is John Goodman, an actor who brings
nuance and humor to what could be a stock character. This is no ordinary
villain or goon; you never know what to expect from him, and as always he’s a
pleasure to watch. Winstead and Gallagher bring conviction and credibility to
their roles, as well.
But 10 Cloverfield
Lane becomes repetitive at a certain point, even though it still has some
surprises in store. I found myself losing interest, so the finale (which is reminiscent
of Cloverfield) doesn’t have the
impact it should. As a piece of popcorn entertainment it’s not bad, but it
spends too much time on much-too-familiar ground.