“10 CLOVERFIELD LANE” My rating: B
105 minutes | MPAA rating:PG-13
Intensely claustrophobic and impeccably acted, “10 Cloverfield Lane” is a mind-messer of a thriller with a forehead-slapping payoff.
In the wordless opening sequence, a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) packs her bags and flees her apartment, leaving behind a wedding ring and a ring of keys.
She’s cruising through the Louisiana countryside at night — listening to radio reports of a catastrophic electrical blackout along the Gulf Coast — when she’s involved in a bone-jarring accident.
Michelle (that’s her name) awakens in a musty cinderblock room, her leg in a splint and a chain limiting her mobility. Enter big beefy Howard (John Goodman), who explains that he pulled Michelle from the wreckage of her car and brought her here, to a bunker beneath his farmhouse. She should be thanking him for saving her life.
According to Howard, the world has come to an end. He’s not sure if it’s the result of nuclear or chemical war. Maybe it’s the doing of the Russians. Or possibly space aliens. (The film’s title, a reference to the 2008 found-footage alien invasion flick “Cloverfield,” should put canny viewers on alert.)
In any case, the air above ground is deadly and Howard announces that they’ll be holed up here for at least a year or two. But not to worry — he’s been planning for this day for a long time. The bunker has enough supplies and equipment to easily keep three people alive.
Oh, yeah, there’s a third resident of the bunker. Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) is a mildly goofy good ol’ boy about Michelle’s age who for the last decade or so has been hired by Howard to work on the bunker. At the first sign of trouble he showed up at Howard’s door. He seems like a doofus, but he may have more going on than can be gleaned at first examination.
Emmett assures the panicked Michelle that despite Howard’s ever-present sidearm and rampant paranoia, their host is an OK guy.