'10 Cloverfield Lane' Is a Must-See Film

PHOTO: This image released by Paramount Pictures shows John Goodman in a scene from "10 Cloverfield Lane."PlayMichele K. Short/Paramount Pictures via AP
WATCH '10 Cloverfield Lane' Review

Rated - PG-13

Starring John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Four-and-a-half out of five stars

This film may be titled "10 Cloverfield Lane" but it has almost nothing to do with 2008’s giant-monster-run-amok movie, "Cloverfield." Thankfully.

I am not a fan of "Cloverfield," but I am a huge fan of "10 Cloverfield Lane."

When Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is run off the road in her vehicle, she wakes up in a subterranean shelter, chained to the floor of a room fortified with cinder blocks. She’s greeted by Howard (John Goodman), an emotionally detached behemoth of a man who informs Michelle he saved her twice -- once after she was run off the road, and again by bringing her to his shelter. That’s because, above ground, there’s been a devastating attack.

PHOTO: This image released by Paramount Pictures shows John Gallagher Jr., left, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a scene from 10 Cloverfield Lane.Michele K. Short/Paramount Pictures via AP
This image released by Paramount Pictures shows John Gallagher Jr., left, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a scene from "10 Cloverfield Lane."

Michelle, as she should be, is suspicious of Howard’s story but the tale becomes slightly more believable when she learns there‘s a third person in the bunker, Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.), who confirms Howard’s story. Some sort of cataclysmic event does seem to have taken place -- Emmett saw it and ran to the shelter.

Still, something’s not right about Howard, or is he merely acting like any paranoid survivalist would in a dire situation? He has strict rules about the bunker and doesn’t appreciate small talk. And when Howard gets angry, he becomes volatile.

Devoted fans of "Cloverfield" will likely notice a few things that connect it to "10 Cloverfield Lane" but, at the same time, won’t be sure if it actually means anything, because this movie is nothing like that “found footage” film. There was a level of predictability and a lack of tension there. This story is tightly wound, full of tension with a tour-de-force performance from Goodman, one so good I’m willing to say it’s the best of his career.

To tell you all the reasons why "10 Cloverfield Lane" is so great would spoil it for you, and this is a movie experience that deserves to be completely unspoiled. But all of those reasons make "10 Cloverfield Lane" the year’s biggest surprise so far.