At The Movies: 10 Cloverfield Lane

I’m not big on horror movies — not really my cup of blood. But every so often one comes along that looks intriguing so I go and check it out. “10 Cloverfield Lane” was just such a movie.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead stars as Michelle, a young woman involved in a car crash on a lonely road late at night. She wakes up from the accident on a mattress on the floor of a small, barren, concrete room. Her leg has been chained to the wall.

10cl_posterMichelle is now the guest of Howard Stambler (John Goodman) a former Navy man and now doomsday prepper. It seems that while Michelle was unconscious something terrible happened. An invasion — possibly alien or probably Russian — has left the world outside Howard’s farm and his underground bunker inhospitable.

They are stuck there until the danger passes — which could be a year or more. Fortunately there’s food, some old magazines, VHS tapes, puzzles and board games.

Joining Michelle and Howard in this claustrophobic scenario is Emmet (John Gallagher, Jr.), a young man who helped Howard build the bunker. Of course, Michelle isn’t convinced that anything she’s being told is true.

And there lies the crux of the film. Is Howard a crazy doomsday fanatic? Is he a serial killer who brings young women to his basement for his sick pleasure? Or maybe, just maybe, he’s right and all is not well above ground. Goodman is perfect for the role — he’s clearly unhinged and yet still somewhat sympathetic.

“10 Cloverfield Lane” is more about psychological terror than the bloody kind — although there is some of the latter before the tale is finished. Dan Trachtenberg makes an impressive directorial debut with this film. It’s tense and moody and, did I mention claustrophobic already?

Like any good thriller, “10 Cloverfield Lane” takes you down one alley then shifts, confounding your expectations and leaving you unsure what will happen next. It’s a clever, taut thriller that knows not to go too far. Well, until the end maybe.

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