MOVIES: 10 Cloverfield Lane is set to thrill

John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr in a scene from 10 Cloverfield Lane.
John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr in a scene from 10 Cloverfield Lane. Photos Contributed

IT'S very rare in today's world of social media and tabloids for a movie to remain a secret during its production.

But producer JJ Abrams and first-time director Dan Trachtenberg have done just that with their sci-fi thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane.

The first anyone heard about the film was when its trailer made a surprise appearance online and in cinemas.

Somehow a project with a high-profile name like Abrams, who recently directed Disney's blockbuster Star Wars film The Force Awakens, managed to slip under the noses of industry insiders, fans and the media.

All of the secrecy around 10 Cloverfield Lane is for good reason. The film is believed to be some sort of sequel or companion to Drew Goddard's 2008 adventure horror film Cloverfield, but Paramount Pictures is keeping mum on exactly how the two films relate.

Abrams has gone on the record, telling Fandango that 10 Cloverfield Lane is not Cloverfield 2.

"The association is clear and there are multiple connections - and there is a bigger idea at play for us with these movies and this connection," he said.

The film comes with a succinct, five-word synopsis: monsters come in many forms.

"While the Cloverfield monster isn't in this movie, there's a new monster and there's something else that happens, but I don't want to ruin the ending," Abrams said.

Ambiguousness in early reviews is certainly being encouraged. As Abrams suggests, if the film's twists are spoiled then it would ruin a cinema-goer's experience.

What can be safely said about 10 Cloverfield Lane is that Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Michelle, a young woman, who wakes up from a car accident to find herself in the basement of a man (John Goodman) who says he has saved her life from a chemical attack that has left the outside world uninhabitable.

Also in the cellar is Emmett (John Gallagher Jr), a young man who has also suffered some sort of injury and has his arm in a sling.

Goodman's character appears to be some sort of doomsday prepper but his mental state is clearly questionable.

Uncertain what to believe, the woman soon determines that she must escape at any cost.

Goodman, Winstead and Gallagher are the only main cast members. Bradley Cooper makes a cameo as the voice of Michelle's boyfriend Ben when she manages to find some mobile phone reception. Abrams, of course, gave Cooper his first big break in his spy TV series Alias.

The handful of other actors listed on the film's IMDB page have ambiguous descriptions including neighbour, state trooper and voice on radio.

10 Cloverfield Lane's reception will be closely watched by pundits. Its secretive production and marketing could be a game-changer for an industry dominated by an endless onslaught of trailers that often contain all of the best bits of the films they're designed to promote.

10 Cloverfield Lane is in cinemas now.

10 Cloverfield Lane

Stars: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr.

Director: Dan Trachtenberg

Rating: M

Reviewer's last word: One of the best-kept secrets in the film industry, 10 Cloverfield Lane is tense, thrilling and suspenseful thanks to a big twist you shouldn't dare spoil for your friends.

Star profile: Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Quirky fact: Is a second cousin, three times removed, of actress Ava Gardner.

Best known for: Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Final Destination 3, A Good Day to Die Hard.

If you like this movie you'll like these: Cloverfield, Triple 9, Super 8, The Mist.

Quote: "I've been performing since I came out of the womb. I've been dancing and singing since I was a toddler. Acting seemed like a natural progression from that."

Topics:  film

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