So, is it psychological horror or an extraterrestrial menace?  This is the central question of 10 Cloverfield Lane, a claustrophobic suspense film that could almost be a three-person play.
The movie opens with Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) rapidly cleaning out her city apartment (but leaving her -- engagement?  wedding? -- ring behind) and driving off.  Driving in the countryside, her car is rammed by another vehicle, and when she wakes up she's in a room made out of cinder blocks, hooked to an IV and handcuffed to the wall.
She soon meets Howard (John Goodman) and learns that she's in his underground bunker.  He tells her that there's been some sort of attack on America -- maybe the Russians, maybe Martians -- the air is contaminated and everyone above ground is dead.  He rescued her from her wrecked car and expects -- sometimes demands -- her thanks and obedience.  He keeps the keys to outside on him at all times, along with a gun.  He expects them to be in the bunker for at least a year or two.  And the only other person in the bunker is Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), a local guy who helped Howard build his bunker.
Naturally, Michelle is skeptical.  She wonders if Howard caused her car accident, she wonders if there really was any attack, and she swears she hears cars and other sounds from outside.  But while Howard's stability seems to come and go, there are also plenty of warning signs outside as well.  The trio soon find themselves bouncing back and forth between paranoia and being an impromptu family.

10 Cloverfield Lane has a simple and effective setup, as the three characters are forced together in a waiting game whose rules seem to keep changing.  The cast is good, especially John Goodman, and there's plenty of suspense generated by their "what if?" situation.  The resolution isn't quite as interesting as what happens beforehand, but 10 Cloverfield Lane is interesting and entertaining.

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch

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