10 Cloverfield Lane 2016 ***

A sequel of sorts to 2008’s Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane works just as well, if not better, as a stand-alone thriller. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a perfect Sigourney Weaver-style scream queen, gutsy and vulnerable in equal measures, and the set up is minimal and terse. Fleeing her boyfriend (an un-credited Bradley Cooper in a voice cameo), Michelle gets into her car and drives; a road accident leads her to waking up in the underground bunker of Howard (John Goodman). Howard and his helper Emmett (John Gallacher Jr) are hiding out as new of some kind of surface contamination breaks, so Michelle throws in her lot with Howard reluctantly. Dan Trachtenberg’s taut thriller ratchets up tension, notably during some parlour games, and even when the plot is finally revealed, the director keeps the scale small and the intensity on point. There’s valuable lessons on how to build a homemade hazmat suit, and even though the final tip into sci-fi is predictable, there’s so much to enjoy before that point that it’s hard to begrudge the splattery pay-off. If nothing else, this JJ Abrams production might just be the most intense PG-13 movie ever; any children watching are likely to need the services of a therapist for years to come.


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