10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Slight spoilers follow

For those who watched 2008’s Cloverfield, the title of the supposed follow-up is a problem. For all intents and purposes, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a nice little chamber piece of a thriller, an enlarged Twlight Zone episode for cinemas. The setup is the sort of thing low-budget genre indies thrive on: a woman wakes up in an unknown bunker and is told by the host that the world has gone to hell, and that to venture outside is to risk certain death by some mysterious toxic gas. The host, played here by John Goodman in terrific form, is by turns intimidating and reassuring, creepy and reasonable. Is he right? Or does he just want to keep her in the bunker for more depraved reasons? What about the third person in the bunker – what's his agenda? The movie plays with this setup quite adroitly, keeping us in suspense for much of the runtime. The title, though, creates a certain, small sense of expectation. The original Cloverfield was about a giant monster in New York. The suspicion that a film sharing the name would also share elements of the outlandish premise is always there in the back of the mind. Ultimately it affects the actual ending of the movie, as well as our reaction to it. What's interesting is that, in a moment that comes amusingly close to breaking the fourth-wall, it seems to affect the reaction of our heroine as well. Always interesting and at times genuinely gripping, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a film unnecessarily burdened by its superficial connection to the predecessor.

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