10 Cloverfield Lane review

Michelle wakes to find herself lying on a mattress in a concrete room, her leg chained to the wall. The last thing she remembers was driving into the darkening countryside after packing her bags and leaving her fiance. She soon learns she's "safe" in an undergrond bunker after being rescued from a car crash, and the world is in the midst of armageddon.

10 cloverfield lane 2016 blu ray packshotThe bunker was built by Howard (John Goodman), who tells Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) that she can't leave because the world above is radioactive, and will be for at least the next year. So she's stuck below ground with Howard and Emmett (Gallagher Jr), who says he sought refuge in Howard's shelter after the attack began, breaking his arm in the process. But are these two men telling the truth? What is really going on above ground? Was there really an attack, and is the air really poisonous? Did Howard really save Michelle's life, or is he just some weird bloke who kidnaps women and hides them below ground on his farm? Just how did he find Michelle? And what happened to daughter that Howard’s always talking about?

10 Cloverfield Lane is one of those films that the less you know before you see it, the better. And in this case, even knowning the title is possibly too much because it means that you go in to the film with certain expectations. The only expectations you should have are that this is a terrific, taut three-handed thriller with engaging performances from all involved, particularly Goodman – you just never know if the guy is genuine or not, he's both frightening and somewhat sad. Winstead too is just perfect as Michelle, vulnerable and scared while also being tough and willing to put up a fight. It's a claustrophobic film filled with tension as Michelle tries to work out just what is going on, both inside the bunker and above ground. It's a terrifically well-paced and very smart thriller, and genuinely frightening in places, with twists and turns that you don't see coming – just try to put Cloverfield out of your mind before you see it.

EXTRAS: There's an audio commentary by director Dan Trachtenberg and producer jJ Abrams; and there are seven behind-the-scenes featurettes that can be played seperately or all together, which makes much more sense (34:42).

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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