10 Cloverfield Lane: A survivalist shocker that will leave you reeling
Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane (12A, 105 mins)
Two's company, three's a paranoia-ridden crowd in 10 Cloverfield Lane, a thrilling companion piece to the 2008 found footage sci-fi Cloverfield, which witnessed an otherworldly attack on New York City through the lens of a resident's camcorder.
The monsters in Dan Trachtenberg's suffocating three-hander are distinctly human but no less terrifying, driven to acts of violence and barbarity in the name of self-preservation.
Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken and Damien Chazelle's deliciously ambiguous script keeps us guessing about where that safety might be, constantly shifting the balance of power between characters whose ulterior motives are shrouded in mystery.
Every time we think we have a grasp on the slippery narrative, the film pulls another rug from under us, flinging us into a mire of nerve-jangling confusion.
The less you know about Trachtenberg's picture before the lights dim, the better.
In an affectionate nod to Hitchcock's Psycho, the director cranks up the tension with opening shots of a young woman, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), driving away from her old life in the city.
She stops for petrol and takes a pleading telephone call from her boyfriend Ben (voiced by Bradley Cooper) shortly before her car spins out of control and plummets down a bank.
She regains consciousness in an underground bunker, at the mercy of a survivalist called Howard Stambler (John Goodman).
As she regains her strength, Michelle learns that Howard saved her and his neighbour Emmett (John Gallagher Jr) shortly before a devastating global attack rendered the surface of the Earth uninhabitable.
The trio are safely cocooned within an airtight bunker, 40 feet below the polluted surface without any telephone signal, until the air is breathable again.
However, Michelle isn't sure if she can trust everything that Howard tells her.
Trachtenberg's direction draws on the claustrophobic setting to plant seeds of doubt and suspicion, including a couple of thrilling action sequences with delightfully unexpected pay-offs.