10 Cloverfield Lane

Cloverfield Lane is a science fiction psychological thriller directed by Dan Trachtenberg in his directorial debut, from screenplay by Josh Campbell, Matthew Stucken and Damien Chazelle. The film was produced by J. J. Abrams’s Bad Robot Productions and distributed by Paramount Pictures. It is the second film in the Cloverfield franchise, though it is not a direct sequel of the former movie. The film was originally developed from a script titled ‘The Cellar’, but under J. J. Abrams’s supervision, it was turned into a ‘spiritual successor’ of his 2008 sci-fi film Cloverfield, although in contrast to its predecessor’s ‘found footage’ style, 10 Cloverfield Lane is presented in a more traditional third-person point of view. The whole film was shot on an ‘ultra low’ budget of about $5-10 million with only three main actors, on only one set, in New Orleans, Louisiana, in just under 2 months between October and December 2014, proving that a good science fiction film doesn’t necessarily need a huge budget and an ensemble of triple-A Hollywood stars.

Monsters come in many forms: After regaining her consciousness following a car accident, Michelle finds herself locked in an underground bunker belonging to a stranger who insist that she cannot leave, because a hostile event of unknown origin, that took place in the meantime, has left the surface of the Earth uninhabitable.

The story centres on Michelle, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, a young woman who, after a car accident she was involved in, regains her consciousness only to find out that she is held against her will in an underground bunker which she shares with two men who insist that a hostile event of unknown origin, that took place while she was unconscious, has left the surface of the Earth uninhabitable.

First of the men, portrayed by John Goodman, introduces himself as Howard Stambler, conspiracy-theorist, survivalist and the owner of the underground shelter the three now occupy. He informs Michelle that after an unspecified WMD attack has taken place, he was racing to reach the safety of his bunker, when he lost control of his vehicle and caused an accident that was involving also Michelle’s car. Having had pangs of conscience, he took unconscious Michelle into his vehicle, drove her to his shelter and that’s how she happens to be here.

Michelle quickly finds out that regardless whether she believes Howard’s story or not, she can’t leave on her own will, as the entrance door is secured by padlocks.

Michelle has deep doubts about Howard’s story (not helped by the fact that he keeps her handcuffed to the wall and locked in a small room), but not wanting to anger her captor, thanks him for saving her life and asks to be released so that she can go to a hospital and receive proper medical attention. Howard gives her keys to her handcuffs, while stressing that there is nowhere to go, as air outside is contaminated with an unknown agent and everyone else apart from them is dead or dying from exposure. Michelle quickly finds out that regardless whether she believes Howard’s story or not, she can’t leave on her own will, as the entrance door is secured by several solid padlocks.

After a car crash, Michelle finds herself trapped in an underground bunker with two men, who insist that a hostile event of unknown origin has left the surface of the Earth uninhabitable

Shortly afterwards Michelle meets the third, and also the last, occupant of Howard’s underground sanctuary, Emmett DeWitt, who is depicted by John Gallagher, Jr.. Emmett explains that he in fact helped to build Howard’s sophisticated shelter, featuring its own power generator, air filtration system and running water supply, as well as years-lasting stock of canned food, and, being aware of its existence, immediately after the attack ran straight here, and was reluctantly let in by its owner.

Michelle realises that Howard’s story must be at least partially true when she sees a woman, suffering from skin lesions, through the window in the shelter’s door.

During the dinner, Michelle manages to distract Howard, steals his keys and tries to make run for the exit, but just as she is about to open the last padlock on the airlock, she sees on the other side of the door a woman, suffering from severe skin lesions, banging her head against the glass porthole and demanding to be let in. Michelle realises that Howard’s story must be at least partially true, and, after Howard’s pleading, decides against opening the airlock and instead returns back to the shelter.

The trio begins adapting to living underground, settling into their daily routines and passing time by listening to music, playing board games, eating main meals prepared by Howard in the common room and talking about their pre-apocalyptic lives. In one of such conversations with Howard, Michelle learns of his daughter Megan. This daily ritual is interrupted one day, when the air filtration unit breaks down. Howard asks Michelle, who is of a smaller build than the two men, to climb through the air ducts to the secondary airlock and reboot the ventilation system. Michelle successfully reaches the room, restarts the air filtration, but just as she wants to return, she notices the word 'HELP' etched onto the inside of the glass porthole in the airlock. She also finds here a bloodied earring she recognises from the picture of Megan she saw earlier.

After finding a misplaced pair of scissors, suspicious Howard confronts the pair, and threatens them with the submersion into a barrel of perchloric acid.

After returning to the common room of the shelter, Michelle discusses her find with Emmett and shows him the purported picture of Howard’s daughter Megan, whom he recognises as a missing girl from his high school, Brittany. The pair realise that Howard abducted the girl and kept her locked in the underground bunker against her will, just as he now keeps them two. Michelle, who is a clothes designer, concocts a plan to fashion a makeshift biohazard suit from a discarded shower curtain, plastic bottle and duct tape, which one of them (as there is only enough material for one suit) would use to escape and call for help.

Alas, Howard suspects that something is amiss, as he finds a misplaced pair of scissors, and confronts the pair, threatening them with the submersion into a barrel of perchloric acid. Wanting to protect Michelle, Emmett fully accepts the blame, accompanying it with a made-up story to explain the displacement of the scissors, and apologises to Howard, who seemingly accepts his apology, but then, to Michelle’s utter horror, summarily executes Emmett with a single shot from the revolver to his head.

Despite the odds, Michelle defeats her captor and finally escapes from the underground shelter, but what she finds on the surface surpasses her worst nightmares.
When Michelle finally emerges from the shelter, she finds on the surface things that surpass anything she could have ever dreamed of in her worst nightmares

While Howard acts as if nothing has happened and resumes his daily routine, distraught Michelle continues her work on the biohazard suit, but just as it is very nearly completed, she is again surprised by Howard. In an ensuing chase through the rooms of the shelter, Michelle tips over the barrel of acid on Howard, severely burning him and inadvertently starting a fire when acid burns through some electrical wires and causes a short circuit.

Michelle, closely pursued by Howard enraged by unbearable pain caused by his injuries, then climbs through the air ducts to the secondary airlock, breaks off the padlock, dons her makeshift hazard suit, and finally manages to escape from the underground shelter. However, little she suspects that her ordeal is far from over, because what she finds on the surface surpasses anything she could have ever dreamed of in her worst nightmares.