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After a catastrophic car crash, Michelle wakes up in a survivalist’s underground bunker. He claims to have saved her from an apocalyptic attack that has left the outside world uninhabitable. His theories are supported by a mysterious stranger who is in the bunker with them, but as his increasingly suspicious actions lead her to question his motives, she'll have to escape in order to discover the truth...
WARNING - CONTAINS SPOILERS!
10 Cloverfield Lane is an intriguing suspense movie which is let down by the fact that the producers rather oddly link it to Cloverfield. It's almost as though the powers that be greenlit a Cloverfield sequel and not having anything ready they decided to go with a suspense plot they had lying around. In fact, doing a little online digging, that appears to be exactly what happened. It was a foolish move and the movie is far worse off for it.
Why doesn't this work? A huge (and I mean huge) part of the film pivots on whether farmer Howard Stambler (John Goodman) is a nutter or a good man. The early scenes of the movie revolve around Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) being chained to the wall and locked in a room, with Howard bringing her food and acting creepily. Come to think of it, it's never actually explained why she's chained to the wall. I'm assuming Howard doesn't know if he can trust her, but as the room she's held captive in locked, why does he bother chaining her up too?
When the film opens, Michelle is involved in a car accident and Howard claims he found her, patched her up and brought her back to the nuclear bunker under his farm. He goes on to tell her that there has been some sort of attack: either Russians or Alien invaders and that she can't leave the bunker for at least a year until the air is safe to breathe.
Now, because we are already familiar with the Alien invasion in Cloverfield, we know that Howard might be a little odd, but he is telling the truth. The suspense of is he? / Isn't he? is kept rolling with the introduction of the only other inhabitant of the bunker, Howard's farm hand Emmett DeWitt (John Gallagher, Jr.) who takes his sweet time to reveal he saw the attack in the form of bright explosions in the sky, before he ran to Howard's farm and begged to be let in to the bunker.
I was hoping there was going to be a bigger twist than what is revealed. Everything is in place for the crazy one to be Emmett. It would have been a lot more satisfying if it had been Emmett who abducted the girl that went missing locally (he helped build the shelter and so could easily have had access to the area she was locked in. Maybe he knew her and she was planning to leave the area (we learn that Emmett had the chance to leave to go to college, but chickened out). In addition, Michelle confides in Emmett, so it would have been easy for him to mention the odd thing here and there to make Howard act even more crazy and suspicious.
The whole suspense element works well and then Michelle escapes the bunker and there's a totally lame ending that sees her battling aliens and er... bringing down a spaceship with a molotov cocktail. Oh, please! It was like the producers suddenly realised this was a Cloverfield movie and had better quickly give it a big alien battle ending. This is made even more strange as Michelle had absolutely no idea that aliens were on Earth, let alone that a molotov cocktail would bring down a spaceship. The aliens have travelled light years through space and our atmosphere would you think a bit of fire would destroy their ship? What would happen if you throw a molotov cocktail at a fighter jet?
Also, wouldn't Howard's CB radio (specially included in the bunker to pick up all communication - you'd think) pick up the broadcast that Michelle gets on her car radio at the end of the film?
For extras we get an audio commentary by Director Dan Trachtenberg and Producer J.J. Abrams (It's a bit of a back slapping exercise where everyone was great to work with. Oddly enough no mention was made of how the film didn't start out being linked to Cloverfield); Cloverfield Too (8 min, 46 sec behind the scenes featurette); Bunker Mentality (3 min, 42 sec look at the set); and End of Story (3 min, 12 sec behind the scenes featurette).
Bear McCreary's score really helps set the right tone. Bernard Herrmann's suspense work was obviously a huge inspiration here. There's one main theme that is repeated throughout, but it's such an incredibly iconic theme that it quickly lodges itself into your mind.
On its own merits it's an intriguing, suspenseful drama. Linking it to Cloverfield, however, totally ruins the opening scenes and the conclusion is rather silly.