10 Cloverfield Lane

Directed By: Dan Trachtenberg

Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, and John Gallagher, Jr.

After the massive hit Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the next thing on the radar of J. J. Abrams' Bad Robot Productions was supposed to be Star Trek Beyond, or so we thought.  As it turns out, Bad Robot got us with the quickness when it dropped the trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane earlier this year.  It literally came out of nowhere when it landed online.  The prospect of a sequel to the 2005 monster thriller Cloverfield — even if in spirit only — threw a jolt of energy into the March release calendar.  Its arrival in theaters has been equally jolting to say the least, and I'm happy to have the privilege of writing about it.  Relentlessly captivating and thrilling, 10 Cloverfield Lane is the movie we deserve to get the spring started right.

After a fight with her boyfriend Ben (Bradley Cooper), Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) packs her belongings and hits the road.  Checking her phone while driving, she soon finds herself spinning out of control off the road in a car accident.  A man by the name of Howard Stambler (John Goodman) rescues Michelle from the dangerous wreckage.  After patching her up, Howard takes her to his home and locks her up underground in his bomb shelter.  She awakens to learn that she'll be staying at this shelter for a while.  According to Howard, there's been some sort of mass attack carried out by the Russians or the Martians.  Whatever the case, the air above ground is toxic, and their only chance of survival is stay there in the shelter together.  Not the only captive patient, Michelle meets Emmet DeWitt (John Gallagher, Jr.) while forcibly staying at Howard's abode.

From start to finish, 10 Cloverfield Lane is really something special, something unforgettable.  For his feature film debut, Dan Trachtenberg knocks it out of the park.  It should come as no surprise that Whiplash writer-director Damien Chazelle had a hand in the writing of this thunderous monster thriller.  A bumpy, intense ride that vigorously pulsates for the duration of its 103-minute runtime, 10 Cloverfield Lane is the movie we deserve after the wastelands that make up the January and February release calendars.  With its roaring score that powers through some ominous times, its gritty cinematography that sets the toxic scene, and its terrific sound mixing that lays the groundwork for plenty of thrills, 10 Cloverfield Lane is one of the best movies of 2016 so far.

The cast is firing on all cylinders.  For her part as Michelle, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is more than your typical heroine in a horror thriller.  She's tough, insightful, and has a heart.  Regardless, she doesn't wear any of this on her shoulder.  Winstead imbues a character that could have been portrayed in a fairly bombastic manner with so much more subtlety and nuance.  For his part as the seeming main attraction Howard Stambler, John Goodman delivers the goods.  For quite a while, it's not clear whether his character is outright insane or just the overzealous guy who knew to have the ark built before an attack.  Either way, he oozes with menace in every move he makes and every step he takes.  It's what he does not say that reverberates the most and makes him a fascinating antagonist of sorts with an intriguing dark side.  Finally, we have John Gallagher, Jr. as Howard's other captive Emmet DeWitt.  The Newsroom star brings quite a bit of comic relief as the most upbeat member of the lead trio.  He also has great chemistry on screen with Winstead.

10 Cloverfield Lane
gets a strong 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers during this quietly explosive thriller.  Don't miss this one.