Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is leaving her boyfriend. She leaves him a note and her keys after a fight. Her boyfriend tries to call her to work things out to no avail. Michelle is not the type to stick around when things get tough. Her boyfriend (who we never see) is played by Bradley Cooper. Not sure why you needed a named actor in that role, but his voice was certainly recognizable.
CRAZY IS BUILDING YOUR ARK
AFTER THE FLOOD
HAS ALREADY COME.
Michelle is in her car when she's mysteriously knocked off the road. She wakes up to find herself chained to a basement wall in a bunker. Now, I've never been in a major accident (thank goodness), but I would hope that when/if I wake up I wouldn't be chained to a wall. I don't think chaining an accident victim to a wall is par for the course in "Rescue 101." Anyone in this situation would automatically assume, which Michelle did--that she was kidnapped by a pervert. The potential pervert in this scenario is Howard, played brilliantly by John Goodman.
WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR ARM?
WERE YOU TRYING TO ESCAPE?
I WAS TRYING TO GET IN.
As an audience member you never quite understand Howard's intentions. Is he a doomsday prepper gone too far? Is he a pervert? Is he just an eccentric weirdo with good intentions? Like Michelle, the audience doesn't know. We know that the film has 'Cloverfield' in the title...so we assume there are aliens around right? Well, not so fast. The vast majority of the film is set in the bunker. Michelle is accompanied by Emmett (John Gallagher). Emmett helped Howard build the doomsday bunker and fought his way in as Howard was closing the doors. Unlike Michelle, Howard reluctantly gave Emmett refuge.
The film's premise is so well worn, it's almost an urban legend. An old man with apocalyptic tendencies holds a young woman in a bunker claiming that the end of the world has come. I've seen at least three or four television episodes based on this storyline. Sometimes it turns out that the world is just fine, but most of the time it turns out that the old man is right. I'm not sure what the urban legend is trying to convey to young girls, but whatever it is it's creepy.
Thankfully '10 Cloverfield Lane' turns the urban legend on its head. Instead of focusing on the female character's naivete as most of these storylines do, the writers focus on her ingenuity and her intelligence. Michelle isn't a babe in the woods. She's smart, capable, and a woman of action.
HOW DO YOU KNOW
THIS IS REAL?
-Michelle [to Emmett]
What I liked most about the film is that it unfolds as a psychological horror film, rather than a creature feature. The writers drench the characters in claustrophobia and paranoia. When we finally discover that there may be some truth to Howard's claims--that there has been some sort of attack--we also find out that Howard is still in fact a pervert. So yes, there was an attack, but that doesn't change the fact that our heroine is holed up in a bunker with a murderous rapist. Yeah...that's truly terrifying.
I FOCUS ON BEING PREPARED.
When Michelle and Emmett finally learn that the danger is inside as well as outside, they start planning to escape. You know it's really bad when a world crawling with aliens is better than living with a psychopath in a bunker. It pains me to see Goodman in this role, because he's such a lovely man in real life, but Goodman is crazy good as the villainous Howard.
Winstead and Gallagher are excellent as well. In a cast this small, there can be no dead weight. Each of these actors carries their water and then some. Ever since I saw her in the 2011 'The Thing' prequel, I haven't been a fan of Winstead, but '10 Cloverfield Lane' proves that Winstead knows what she's doing. It's not easy acting opposite someone as good as John Goodman, but she holds her own.
PERHAPS A PILGRIMAGE TO WACO?
-Emmett [discussing Howard's bucket list]
I can honestly say I have never quite seen a sequel like this one. I hope to see more good things from new director Dan Trachtenberg. In the hands of another director, the film could have been cheesy or over the top. Trachtenberg's direction is subdued. He let the script and the actors take us where we need to go. The tension of the film carries us to a thrilling conclusion. '10 Cloverfield Lane' was definitely worth the $$ and the popcorn. Go see it.
FOUR OUT OF FIVE STARS.