Waking up from a car accident, a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) finds herself in the basement of a man's (John Goodman) remote country house: he claims to have saved her life from a chemical attack that has left the outside uninhabitable.
Review by Andrew L. Urban: It's tagged as 'drama, mystery, sci-fi'. Well, it definitely isn't science fiction, and the mystery is such a tease the revelation is not only disappointing but makes mincemeat of the film's internal logic. Avoiding spoilers leaves me only generalisations to work with, but the premise that drives most of the film turns out to be the premise that contradicts the revelation. There's your mystery .... As for drama, yes, there are dramatic scenes, but they are strung together with banal scenes that reinforce the premise.
It's primarily John Goodman's performance that makes the film watchable, a superbly calibrated characterization that in the end proves to be somewhat schizoid. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a great blend of vulnerable and determined as Michelle, caught in a situation she can't fathom. Initially chained to a pipe beside the mattress in a bare stone cell-like room, with a restraint on her right leg, Michelle presents to us as the archetypal damsel in distress. It encourages an emotional response which Winstead manages to maintain through thick and thin as the feisty heroine.
With its patchwork story, sewn together from disparate plotlines (perhaps collated from discarded script ideas), 10 Cloverfield Lane can be trying on our patience when it should be tightening the tension screws. When it does, it heightens the intriguing questions that are posed at the beginning, but neither the resolution nor the process of getting there provide a satisfying experience. I feel cheated.