Seemingly coming out of nowhere and arriving in cinemas with producer JJ Abrams knack for intriguing but largely spoiler free promotional material quickly ramping up the expectation, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a deeply intense, claustrophobic and satisfying experience. Ostensibly a three-hander set in a doomsday bunker with car crash victim Michelle stuck with her 'saviour' Howard and the wise-cracking and cynical Emmett. According to Howard the outside world has become the victim of an unspecified attack. Though how far his word can be trusted is debatable. Beyond that brief synopsis it's best to know as little possible about the film before going in.

Though the Cloverfield name suggests it's a sequel to Matt Reeves' 2008 film, the audience is kept in the dark for the majority of the film as to exactly what type of story we're seeing here. Is it a kidnap thriller, a nuclear apocalypse tale, an alien invasion movie or a study of domestic violence disguised as a genre film? Perhaps it's all these things and more. JJ Abrams has called it a 'blood relative' and 'spiritual successor' to Cloverfield in interviews which is sort of an answer. Plus eagle-eyed viewers will spot a neon Slusho! sign, the soft drink that formed part of the earlier film's viral marketing campaign.

A smart script (apparently extensively rewritten by Damien 'Whiplash' Chazelle) keeps you guessing throughout and debut director Dan Trachtenberg and cinematographer Jeff Cutter ensure that the claustrophobic and limited setting remains visually interesting. While the tongue in cheek use of I Think We're Alone Now by Tommy James and The Shondells compliments another apocalyptic score by The Walking Dead's Bear McCreary.

The small cast are all very strong. Mary Elizabeth Winstead makes for a convincingly resourceful and determined heroine, John Goodman is by turns creepily banal, dangerously charming and incredibly volatile, while The Newsroom's John Gallagher Jr brings some welcome moments of humour to an otherwise fairly intense story.

Anyone expecting an effects-heavy action movie may find it's relatively small scale setting and character-driven drama disappointing but with most films neatly plotted out in the audience's minds before the opening credits start thanks to spoiler-heavy trailers, 10 Cloverfield Lane's unexpected and unpredictable twists and turns are something to treasure.



Review by Kevin Knapman





10 Cloverfield Lane (12A)

1h 43m

Starring:
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.

UK Release: Friday 18th March 2016