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10 Cloverfield Lane ***

Overcoming its own hype, “10 Cloverfield Lane” delivers solid scary thrills.

Is it worth$10? Yes

In what can only be described as one of the most screwed up three's company scenarios, "10 Cloverfield Lane" takes us on an extreme psychological journey in which the monster is not what you may expect.

Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), our young protagonist, awakens from a nasty car crash in an underground bunker. However, this bunker is set up more like an "Ozzy and Harriet" style prison, in the middle of rural B.F.E. farmland. After a daring escape, her captor/rescuer, Howard (John Goodman), comes in and does his best to explain to her that something terrible has happened on the surface, and that she was very lucky he brought her there. Soon after, she is introduced to another underground tenant, nice-guy neighbor Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.), who claims to be there by choice. He further explains that the air above is not breathable and that he helped build the bunker that was housing them. Emmett, in a very eloquent dinner moment, explained again that they may have to be there for a couple of years before the danger passes.



The film isn't a sequel to "Cloverfield" (2008). In fact, except for the use of the word "Cloverfield" in the title, you can't even truly relate the two films. This is more of an entry into what seems to be a bigger anthology of "Twilight Zone" style stories. The good news is, gone are the nausea inspiring shaky handi-cams and annoying hipster victims running from a giant Kaiju monster. Most of the film takes place in a somewhat comfortable, but claustrophobic, bomb shelter.

Even when it seems our characters may have a moment to relax, the tension quickly builds, thanks to Bear McCreary's ("The Walking Dead") impressive score and the writing prowess of Damien Chazelle ("Whiplash"). Goodman balances a menacing and sympathetic, but slightly unhinged, savior with perfection. Truly this is one of his best acting performances. Winstead proves to be more than just a victim and makes an exemplary heroine while trying to sort out the madness around her. Gallagher's role is smaller, but rounds out the ensemble nicely. First time director Dan Trachtenberg lets his cast do most of the work and keeps the scale at a manageable and efficient level with much success.


Without spoiling anything, the crescendo of the film doesn't hit the high note that the amazingly unnerving buildup creates. Producer J.J. Abrams and his damn mystery box are the perfect marketing hype machine. Usually it pays off well for him, but in this case you may feel a bit cheated with some crafty, sleight of hand on the film you were expecting. Then again, it may surprise you. Depends on how you look at it.

This was truly an unexpected sequel in so many aspects. Coming out of nowhere, with an edge of your seat thriller that truly delivers, is never an easy thing. It can, however, be disappointing when your expectations are firmly set in one direction.

In the case of "10 Cloverfield Lane," don't be scared off by the hype; embrace this monster of a potential hit.