I just got back from 10 Cloverfield Lane , and it didn't disappoint. The first section is a spoiler-free review, followed by a spoiler-hidden additional thoughts.
"After getting in a car accident, a woman is held in a shelter with two men, who claim the outside world is affected by a widespread chemical attack." - IMDB's description.
I didn't really expect the film to be a direct sequel to the original Cloverfield, with that monster stomping around - but I wasn't sure. I've read how it was originally called The Cellar, and perhaps somebody recognized a quality that justified giving it the Cloverfield title. Just like Twilight Zone, or Outer Limits - an Anthology series of films. I think this is actually a great idea, because I really liked Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield Lane, even though they are totally different types of films. Bring on another Cloverfield title!
Getting back to 10CL, the film surprised me a number of times. Three people are trapped in Howard's (a doomsday prepper and conspiracy advocate played by John Goodman) bunker. Howard claims that there has been an attack on the USA. They don't know who exactly, but he has a few theories. John Goodman's acting was particularly excellent! You don't really know a lot about him, you try (as the main female character does) to figure him out. So he was at times sinister and very frightening, even when he was being calm. Is he a madman or the only guy who knows whats going on? There is strong evidence both ways. The film is a slow build of intense and then lighter scenes, slowly revealing more details about Howard and the situation at hand. The intensity always returns and it comes with Goodman's character, even when he's not in the scene but just heard coming down the hall.
After seeing the film, I went back and watched the trailer and the released stills. More is shown in those stills than you might think. Certain items in the still pictures have an important purpose, but you'd never know until watching - the perfect type of oblivious / hidden "spoiler" material to put into a trailer. Heh.
As with the original Cloverfield film, where seeing blood splatter against a screen is shocking because it is done realistically and you know what horrible thing just happened back behind the screen, in 10CL the slow burn gets to you and just one loud event can startle you and make you jump. There are a few times I "felt the impact" of a scene and my heart raced for a minute. All of the film's questions or mysteries are not exactly answered, but the big questions are answered, and I felt very satisfied by the ending.
Finally, I found the lead character Michelle (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) to be smart. Right from the start, she's figuring stuff out. There is only one scene, one action of hers, that strained credulity just a bit - and it reminded me of another film with a similar scene - but nothing that ruins the overall film's quality.
I would rate 10 Cloverfield Lane, a claustrophobic and suspenseful thriller with a simple story line yet filmed in a satisfyingly complex manner, with an A-.
Spoilers part of the Review:
Well, nothing big in this section, but I was worried a bit that there'd be no payoff at the end, that Michelle would get out of the bunker and discover that Howard was crazy and there was no attack. There were many clues that there was indeed an attack - power failures , the dissolved pigs (could have been set up by Howard), the Neighbor woman (also could have been set up ahead of time by Howard), the sounds of flying vehicles going overhead. I didn't expect the film to go full alien invasion though! The film would have been just as good without it, but I liked the inclusion of those scenes.
I was glad there ended up being an other-worldly component here. I kept thinking , driving home after the film, that I kept wondering if Howard was crazy and liar, or if what he prepared for was the truth. It turned out both scenarios were happening - "the martians" did attack and people were dying above ground, but also Howard had long ago snapped.
The entire audience jumped and barked out loud "ohhhh!" when Howard fired the pistol. Other loud psyche-slamming events were the near-opening credits during her car crash! Quiet, then BANG! Unnerved me from the start.
Finally, unanswered questions. Did Howard crash into her on purpose, wanting another 'girl' or 'daughter' character to keep him company in the bunker? Or was it truly as he described it, an accident. Then again - was that Howard's truck filling up gas at the same station as Michelle? Did he get the idea there, after seeing her lovely face? And should Michelle be grateful either way, because had Howard not side-swiped her car and caused the crash , she'd likely be dissolving and dead.
And is there anything more with Emmett? Or was his story just like he described it? Was the girl in the 2nd picture, wearing the same shirt that he gave to Michelle, his daughter "Megan", or "Brittany" the kidnapped girl? (I couldn't tell). Or was that a lie told by Emmett? I believed him at first, but then wondered afterwards at the shear coincidence of him being down there in the bunker, too. Maybe some of these questions are more obviously answered after a 2nd watch.....