Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane, B
Rated PG-13, 105 minutes
Those crazy people who build underground shelters and fear the end of the world may gain some traction after the chilling, tense and well-acted new science-fiction horror film "10 Cloverfield Lane," the hypothetical, sort-of sequel to the 2008 hit "Cloverfield." Set in the same fictional universe as that film, it's really a completely different movie set in much tighter spaces that casts a world of uncertainty to it that producer J.J. Abrams would want you to feel. After surviving a car accident, a woman, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, excellent), wakes up in an underground cellar. She fears she has been abducted along with Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr. of TV's "The Newsroom") by survivalist Howard Stambler (John Goodman), who tells her he saved her life, and that a worldwide chemical attack has left Earth's surface uninhabitable. Uncertain what to believe, she decides to escape, no matter what dangers she may face outside. Directed by TV commerical director Dan Trachtenberg in his feature film debut and produced by Abrams on a smaller scale and budget than the found-footage horror hit "Cloverfield," the enjoyable "10 Cloverfield Lane" is nothing like that film (and thankfully, as I wasn't a fan of its dizzying camera movements) and most terrifying because you're unsure of who the monsters may be or where they lie, inside or outside the bunker, at least until the frightening, breathless last few minutes, which answers that in a rather huge way (but no spoilers here). Up until then, it's a tense three-person "X-Files"-style mystery, nicely performed by all three actors, especially Winstead, superb here as the smart, tough heroine who channels her inner Ripley in the film's climax, and makes you wonder why she hasn't received better roles since her stellar turn as an alcoholic in the drama "Smashed" a few years ago. "10 Cloverfield Lane," like many of its sci-fi predecessors, suffers from lapses in believability and murky plot holes that may produce more questions than answers (yes, it's a very elaborate bunker, and why exactly was she spared?) to give fanboys something to chew on for awhile. For now though, it's perfectly OK to step outside your bunker, make your way to a theater, and enjoy the thrilling ride that is "10 Cloverfield Lane."