10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
A clever premise is handled quite effectively and thoughtfully by first-time director Dan Trachtenberg in this nominal follow-up to 2008's Cloverfield. Apart from J. J. Abrams name in the producer's list, the films have precious little in common, however; not even the home-video approach, which would have done this film no favours. Instead, 10 Cloverfield Lane opens with a chilling mystery which may or may not be what it looks like: A young recently broken-up girl is pushed off the road by a driver and wakes up bruised, tied-up and attached to professional medical equipment in what seems like a bomb shelter. Her saviour/captor, played with true emphasis by John Goodman, appears to ensure her that she – and his other "guest" named Emmett – are safe with him in his shelter while the world outside is under attack by an unknown force.
Clever thriller premises have ended up as god-awful films enough times for seasoned viewers not to get over-excited by the promising opening of this film, but once the vibrant interplay between our three main characters gets going and director Trachtenberg reveals just enough without jeopardizing the logic of his story, 10 Cloverfield Lane finds its feet and becomes unusually effective for this genre. The effectiveness is not down to any one brilliant piece of writing or filmmaking, but is rather accomplished through fine handling of well-executed rehashings of several previously seen elements. The film draws inspiration from a wide range of films, from Misery to Take Shelter, and adds a dash of classic sci-fi here and zombie-ish threats there to keep us on our toes. The real horror, though, like so many times before, is the human side of it, accomplished not least through great acting from all three leads. Which is why there is an unavoidable anti-climax when the film is obliged to take us out of the "comfort zone" of the bunker and into the highly well-known unknown, from which the producers unmistakenly insists there must be a possible financial way further.