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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Apr 7, 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane Movie Review: You Can Never Guess Where The Story Will Be Going

IF YOU ENJOY watching thrillers, don’t miss “10 Cloverfield Lane”. The lead character is Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, known for horror flicks like “Final Destination 3”, “The Ring 2”, “Black Christmas”), who is running away from her boyfriend when she figures in a car accident. When she regains consciousness, her arm has an IV drip and her leg is chained inside what maybe a basement.

She later meets Howard (John Goodman), who tells her he has rescued her from the accident then brought her to his place, which is a bunker made by the survivalist Howard in anticipation of doomsday. Aside from the two of them, there is another occupant, Emmet (John Gallagher), a handyman who backs up Howard’s story that the outside world is in chaos as apocalyptic things just happened. What exactly (is it an attack from Russia or China, an alien invasion), we don’t know.

Howard tells Michelle they should stay safe inside his underground shelter for a while, until things out there are safe again. Of course, Michelle thinks he’s psychotic and you’d side with her if you just saw “Room”. Meantime, she has to play along inside his self-enclosed kingdom where they do board games, charades, watch movies on video. Howard tells stories about his daughter but we don’t know if they’re true or just fiction as another girl seems to have been held captive in the same place before. It’s not surprising that Michelle continues planning her escape.

The setting is inside a limited space so it’s very claustrophobic. And we, the viewers, are never sure if Howard is really a savior who means well or just a crazy kidnapper. We’re also not sure if what he’s saying about what’s happening in the outside world is true. We are kept guessing and the director knows how to keep the situation tense and suspenseful with the use of ominous sound effects and an atmospheric, throbbing musical score.

The movie is produced by JJ Abrams, who also did the found footage monster movie, “Cloverfield” in 2008 (and the more recent “The Force Awakens”). We won’t reveal the connection of “10 Cloverfield Lane” to the earlier movie, but we assure you that there is one and it’s up to you to discover that. All we’d say is that the new movie is quite a well crafted thriller.

Winstead comes out fine as the heroine, who looks very feminine and vulnerable but is very smart, knows how to fight and won’t just play victim. She reminds us of Ripley in the “Alien” series”. As Michelle, she is subjected to various types of psychological and physical trials and always comes out in top fighting form.

Goodman can both be likeable or frighteningly dangerous and creepy,what with his volatile temper. He does something to one character that truly stunned us. The movie has some twists and turns that you might not be able to see coming. The last 15 minutes may be totally unexpected and, although you might not agree with the way it ends, this remains to be a superior thriller in our book.