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10 Cloverfield Lane




10 Cloverfield Lane (PG-13)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

03/17/16
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



A young woman has either been saved from a devastating attack on America or is being held hostage by a psycho — or maybe both! — in 10 Cloverfield Lane, a sidequel or somethingquel to the 2008 horror movie Cloverfield
Actually, I have no idea whether the events in 10 Cloverfield Lane are in the same universe as the events of Cloverfield. Even a guess in that direction is something of a spoiler.
As the movie opens, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is crying and packing and exits an apartment leaving behind a set of keys and what looks like an engagement ring. Driving through the dark in what we learn is Louisiana, Michelle ignores her boyfriend’s pleas via phone that they have only had a fight and she should come back. Before she can decide whether or not to respond to him, she is run off the road. 
When she wakes up, she has an IV in her arm and her injured leg is chained to the wall in a concrete room that I think anybody at this point would instantly recognize as a standard kidnapper’s bunker. When Howard (John Goodman), the man bringing her food, comes in, Michelle runs through all the possible responses from fear to appearing to appease him to suggesting that people will be coming to look for her. Howard tells her that he knows nobody will look for her and later he tells her why: there has been an attack, chemical maybe or nuclear, he’s not sure. What he is sure of is that the air above is contaminated and they must stay underground, in the disaster shelter he’s built and stocked, for a year or two until the air is clear.
As any of us would, Michelle assumes this is nonsense and she has been kidnapped by a crazy person. Howard’s intensity and general creepiness seem to back up this idea, as does the occasional mention of someone named “Megan,” who isn’t here anymore. But then she meets Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), another inmate of the bunker. He has an injured arm that she assumes was the result of an escape attempt. No, he tells her, he got this injury trying to get into the bunker. He helped Howard do construction on the place, which is why he came here after he saw the red light of the attack. As Michelle questions him further, though, he doesn’t seem to have any more information than “red light,” so Emmett becomes another piece in the puzzle but not definitive proof that Howard’s apocalyptic story is true.
Usually in a horror movie, things are either x or y, it’s a ghost or you’re going mad, the doll is evil or it’s really just the gardener trying to kill you, it’s a serial killer or, well, usually in the serial killer movies it’s just a serial killer full stop. 10 Cloverfield Lane leaves open the possibility that many things are true. Maybe the world is ending, but that doesn’t mean Howard isn’t a creepy dude who is holding people hostage. Or maybe he’s just a really intense, twitchy prepper. Maybe he and Emmett are in on something together or maybe Emmett is really the one pulling the strings. Can Michelle trust anything anybody says, anything she sees? 
I like the way the movie is able to leave the exact nature of what is happening uncertain even as it adds more information and brings you a better understanding of the characters. Eventually, you do get answers, though not all the answers and I kind of like that too. The movie is satisfying but resists the urge to tie up every plot thread, much in the manner of a really satisfying short story or the first-season finale of a TV show that isn’t certain it’s going to make it to Season 2.
10 Cloverfield Lane doesn’t have a lot of moving parts but it puts its pieces together well, creating a solid, tense movie. B
Rated PG-13 for thematic material including frightening sequences of threat with some violence and brief language. Directed by Dan Trachtenberg with a screenplay by Josh Campbell & Matthew Stuecken and Damien Chazelle, 10 Cloverfield Lane is an hour and 43 minutes long and distributed by Paramount Pictures.   
 





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