I went to see 10 Cloverfield Lane yesterday, unsure of what to expect but hopeful. I wasn't a hater of the original Cloverfield like some: I thought it was a decent monster movie that was interesting albeit hard to watch because of the shaky-cam style. With that said I knew going in that 10 Cloverfield Lane wasn't the same kind of movie as the original based on everything I had read and from the trailer.
I had heard that this new movie was a sequel but not really a sequel. Confusing? A little until you see it, and then it makes more sense. I would call this more of a shared-world movie than a true sequel.
The setup is pretty simple. A girl named Michelle leaves her boyfriend, packs her bags, and sets out to reclaim her life. Along the way she has a serious car accident that forces her off the road. When she wakes up she finds herself chained up in a doomsday bunker by a man named Howard who may or may not be psychotic. Howard (played expertly by John Goodman) claims that there has been some sort of accident above ground (nuclear/biological/extraterrestrial...nobody really knows) and he is actually saving Michelle and another guy named Emmett by allowing them to stay in his bunker. Despite the creep factor that Howard exudes throughout the film he maintains that Michelle and Emmett would be dead if left to their own devices above ground. In that way he sees himself as their savior, offering them the ability to stay in his bunker and escape the horrors that are taking place above ground.
The first 90% of this movie is tense and suspenseful as Michelle and Emmett gradually gain Howard's trust and try to learn more about what is going on outside, more about their host, and more about their options for escape. Some things they learn corroborate Howard's story while other things contradict it completely. At times it seems Howard is a raving lunatic. At other times it seems Howard might actually be telling the truth.
Without giving away too much I would give the majority of the film a solid B in terms of pacing, intrigue, and overall suspense. The last ten minutes or so, however, ruined things for me. It felt like I was watching a totally separate movie at the end. We go from the kind of story that Rod Serling would have been proud of to something that looked like leftover footage from M. Night Shyamalan's Signs (which I, incidentally, liked a lot). The film felt very disjointed in its final minutes, and I left with mild irritation at how it all ended.
I see where J.J. Abrams is headed with his Cloverfield stories, and while I think it is interesting I think this film would have worked much better as a standalone thriller that gave no winks or nods to the world of the original Cloverfield. Had the story started and ended with the tale of two people stuck in a doomsday bunker with a possible madman I would have left the theater feeling like I had watched a taut, thought-provoking sci-fi thriller. As it turned out I went from really enjoying the film to thinking that the creators of 10 Cloverfield Lane tried to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Bottom line-I didn't love it but really wanted to like it more than I did.