10 Cloverfield Lane (12A.)
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg.
Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr and John Goodman. 103 mins.
“Please, no spoilers,” the man from Paramount requested of reviewers as we went in and that seems entirely reasonable. This is a film so secretive that one of its mysteries is whether it is actually any kind of a sequel to Cloverfield, the 2008 Godzilla-in-the-style-of-Blair Witch hit.
Part of the appeal of the original found footage monster movie was that it offered a partial view of events. We saw the devastation of New York from the point of view of ordinary people caught up in the maelstrom rather than the military command structure or the resistance heroes. Lane presents an even more marginalised perspective, that of three people stuck in an underground bunker belonging to former marine Howard, (the imposing sweaty mass of Goodman.) He is insistent that they cannot leave because the air outside has been polluted after some kind of attack. Michelle (Winstead) isn't so sure.
As a claustrophobic thriller, it is enormously effective. It really whizzes along and there are just the right number of well spaced out jumps and twists, moderated by injections of humour. There are a couple of implausibilities but mostly you buy into it and for a 12A it is unusually scary. The film has a strange dual tension. Michelle's dilemma about the veracity of her situation, whether Howard can be trusted and if it is safe to go outside, mirrors the audience's scepticism about the film: is it ever going to take us outside, or will it fob us off with this micro three hander? Or, more directly, is it going to rip us off? And that, of course, is exactly what I can't help you with.