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Logline: After a car accident, a woman awakes inside a shelter where two men claim a widespread chemical attack has made the air unbreathable.

Review: Produced by J.J. Abrams, 10 Cloverfield Lane is Dan Trachtenberg’s first feature length film and overall, it is a solid debut.  It is marred only by a trite and ultimately unsatisfying final act.  The film’s best elements are undoubtedly John Goodman’s performance and the interplay among the three characters in the tense, claustrophobic setting.

When news of the film’s release went viral, many people thought that 10 Cloverfield Lane was the long awaited sequel to the 2008 film Cloverfield, also produced by J.J. Abrams.  However, to the casual viewer, the film bares no connection to the 2008 “found footage” film.  The choice to include Cloverfield in the film’s title seems like a mistake, instilling in viewers certain expectations that will likely go unfulfilled.  There is talk that the Cloverfield franchise will be a sort of Twilight Zone anthology series but nothing has been confirmed.

As I stated before, the film’s greatest asset is John Goodman, who delivers an excellent performance as the survivalist Howard.  Viewers will see a side of Goodman that they do not usually get to see onscreen.  Goodman brings a certain level of ambiguity to this dark character so that at any given moment, one can never be certain exactly what Howard’s true intentions are and therein lies a lot of the fun.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. also give solid performances.

The film is nicely shot and Hitchcockian in spirit.  The tense atmosphere and ambiguity surrounding the chemical attack and whether or not Howard is telling the truth is where a lot of the fun originates.  Therefore, when the final act brings with it the big reveal, I could not help but feel disappointed.  The explosive finale felt somewhat trite and rushed.  However, the buildup to the final act is great.

Overall, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a solid film and definitely worth seeing.  While perhaps not as good as the film’s critical reception might have you think, the fact remains.  10 Cloverfield Lane is a fun roller coaster ride of a movie.

Rating (out of ****): ***

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