Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - LOOK LOCAL -

NOT so much a rel­a­tive to 2008’s Cloverfield as it is a com­pan­ion piece, pro­ducer J.J. Abrams brings a sim­i­larly themed try-to-sur­vive thriller with 10 Cloverfield Lane that would serve as a trendy dou­ble fea­ture.

An im­pres­sively re­strained open­ing in­tro­duces us to Michelle (Mary El­iz­a­beth Win­stead) as she fran­ti­cally packs a bag to leave her city apart­ment while tak­ing a dis­tress­ing call from her part­ner Ben.

We are not ex­actly sure of the na­ture of the drama as it is played out with mu­sic the only au­dio we can hear, but while driv­ing through a ru­ral area a car ploughs into hers and she is sent tum­bling down the side of a hill.

She wakes up in a bunker with Howard (John Good­man), who built it, and Em­mett (John Gal­lagher Jr), who is also tak­ing shel­ter from the disas­ter that Howard says rages out­side.

Michelle is held against her will and de­ter­mined to es­cape, un­con­vinced of Howard’s story about the apoc­a­lyp­tic sit­u­a­tion be­yond the pad­locked heavy duty doors.

Is he telling the truth or is it the para­noid ram­blings of an un­hinged in­di­vid­ual?

The beauty in 10 Cloverfield Lane is that any out­come is pos­si­ble, which makes for a ter­ri­fy­ing film.

Do you face what is hap­pen­ing out­side and fight for sur­vival on your own terms or share a safe haven with some­one you sim­ply can­not trust?

Com­par­isons to Alien se­ries hero­ine Ellen Ri­p­ley are in­evitable, as Michelle is a flawed but tough and re­source­ful hero­ine and Win­stead, who has dab­bled in sim­i­lar roles in the hor­ror genre, fits the cri­te­ria per­fectly.

Michelle is a woman who usu­ally runs from con­flict and Win­stead’s tran­si­tion from pas­sive to ac­tive is flaw­less.

The skilled ac­tor, who broke from the scream queen mould with her dra­matic turn in Smashed, bal­ances the vul­ner­a­ble with the ca­pa­ble.

Good­man gives a chill­ing per­for­mance as the creepy Howard, his ran­dom an­gry out­bursts made more ter­ri­fy­ing in com­par­i­son to his oth­er­wise quiet and dead­pan de­liv­ery.

The fi­nal act takes a turn, feels like some­thing out of an­other film com­pletely and does not quite mesh with the re­straint and skilled ten­sion build­ing of what has come be­fore, but we are so at­tached to Michelle and her fight for sur­vival, it is not a to­tal bust.

The res­o­lu­tion is char­ac­ter-driven rather than as a twist for shock value or a se­quel set-up, which is a re­fresh­ing and sat­is­fy­ing way to wrap up.

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