A young woman has a car accident in a rural area and wakes up locked inside a cellar with two men. The older guy is a conspiracy theorist who built the fall-out shelter in preparation for doomsday, but unaware of any so-called invasion the girl suspects that not all is as it seems. Trapped together with several years worth of supplies the three of them begin to feel the effects of containment and tensions escalate. To say more would venture into spoiler territory and so the rest is for you to discover.
This is an effective minimalist horror film that relies on atmosphere and suspense to hold the viewer's attention. The one-set location gives it a claustrophobic overtone and the constant uncertainty of what is unfolding makes it an absorbing mystery that exploits Hitchcockian themes. As a stand alone film, which the original script was, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE holds up only to a certain point. But by associating it with the 2008 film they have added an extra layer of intrigue, that offers an original and exciting new approach to the conventions of the “film franchise”. And so I find it absurd and frustrating that the writers would go out of their way to dissociate it by reiterating the fact that it does not occupy the same universe or timeline as CLOVERFIELD. They needn't say that at all and the film damn well COULD fit in nicely with the previous events and the title of this quasi-sequel would make more sense (so writers, shut the fuck up).
The cast of three are solid with John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead taking the reigns and filling the vacuous elements with compelling and provoking characters who constantly second-guess each other. John Gallagher Jr plays the third guy, though his character provides little to the story aside from filling the space. He's good, but his character isn't developed enough to herald any high praise. With a taught script and a notably effective pacing, the film's stifling environment never hinders the momentum and the various plot developments are both exciting and frightening.
I suspect that 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE will frustrate and disappoint a lot of viewers, and if that is the case then the onus is on the creators for being so ambiguous. To Paramount Pictures's credit they have made every effort to prepare the audience's expectations by creating a marketing campaign that ties it with CLOVERFIELD, but with a press release that contradicts these efforts, the film is more likely going to kill any hopes of further instalments.