June 15, 2016


Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr., Suzanne Cryer & the voice of Bradley Cooper (that’s the entire cast). Directed by Dan Trachtenberg. (2016, 103 min).

I watched 10 Cloverfield Lane with my 12-year-old daughter, Lucy, who voiced two observations that are pretty relevant to this review:

Observation #1 - About halfway through the film, Lucy said “I’ll never be able to look at Sully the same way again.” She’s referring, of course, to John Goodman as Howard, a rather paranoid survivalist who traps Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in a homemade bomb shelter with him, along with another local, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr). Howard claims there was some kind of attack, everything above-ground is toxic and most of the population is dead. It’s not made clear exactly what happened at this point, but Michelle is initially unconvinced until Emmett concurs that the apocalypse may indeed be at-hand, and Howard’s the reason they’re both alive.

Even so, Howard is obviously a few cans short of a six-pack, his behavior growing increasingly unpredictable and disturbing as the story moves forward. It’s also suggested that the fate of his own family might be something more sinister than he’s led them to believe. Throughout much of the film, the focus is on these three in the claustrophobic confines of the shelter, with Goodman giving the most menacing performance of his career (though not completely without sympathy and dashes of humor). As someone who associates Goodman’s unique voice with Monsters Inc, I suppose Lucy’s comment was similar to what some of us felt seeing Henry Fonda as a psychotic killer in Once Upon a Time in the West. Just imagine if Sully ominously said, “No one’s looking for you, Boo.”

The upstairs neighbors appear to be 'All About That Bass'".

Observation #2 - Without giving too much away, during the final act, the story takes an out-of-the-blue turn that prompted Lucy to blurt, “What the Freak???” (Thanks for not swearing around Dad, kid). Her response is likely similar to that of many other viewers lulled into this intimate, single-setting story before being thrown a climactic curveball (which almost seems to belong in another movie). I, for one, enjoyed the movie’s overall unpredictability enough to accept the climax & resolution for what it is.

Producer J.J. Abrams was absolutely right when vehemently stating the movie is not a sequel to Cloverfield. Hell, it isn’t really even a “spiritual successor” as he often claimed in press releases. 10 Cloverfield Lane bares no resemblance to the film that inspired its title, but it’s a far better one...suspenseful, surprising and smart, never depending on the main character, Michelle, doing something stupid to put herself in peril. So far, this is one of the better sci-fi/horror films of the year.


  • Audio Commentary (Director Dan Trachtenberg & Producer J.J. Abrams)
  • Featurettes: “Cloverfield Too”; “Bunker Mentality”; “Duck & Cover” “Spin Off”; “Kelvin Optical”; “Fine Tuned”; “End of Story” (Total of about 30 minutes)
  • DVD & Digital Copies (includes a digital copy of Cloverfield)


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