An outgrowth of British TV, Bharat Nalluri's espionage thriller is direct and workmanlike.
Todd Haynes has become an expert in bringing the style and values of the American 1950s to life.
Ramin Bahrani's movie about eviction woes is a small masterpiece of greed and tension.
Tom McCarthy's superb "Spotlight" is just as much about journalistic doggedness as sexual abuse.
Four directors do a good job of situating purgatory on a California highway, until they run out of gas.
James Bond continues to go through the motions, but his commitment is growing questionable.
Karyn Kusama's horror-thriller has its moments, but fails to make the most of lingering menace.
Ben Wheatley's adaptation of a 1975 J.G. Ballard parable is beautiful to look at but dated in spirit.
Alejandro Amenábar's mediocre devil-worship thriller is really an object lesson in manipulated hysteria.
David Farr's creepy thriller about babies and unstable mothers is at once unsettling but predictable.
Directed by: Dan Trachtenberg
Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher, Jr.
10 Cloverfield Lane
After Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has a fight with her boyfriend, she decides to bolt. And off she goes driving into the Louisiana night — until she crashes and wakes to find herself shackled in a 1950s-style underground shelter, property of hulking Howard (John Goodman), a man-child who tells her she's being held for her own safety — something monstrous has happened above.
What begins as a cat-and-mouse psychological thriller — potential pervert holds woman underground — slowly (if awkwardly) acquires momentum with the introduction of Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), another apparent "hostage" who instead insists he's there of his own volition. He saw weird lights and scampered for the safety of weird Howard's bunker, which he helped build.
So then, is Howard a demented but harmless conspiracy theorist who believes in Russian attacks and aliens or is he a more-than-slightly unbalanced loner who imprisons people in his underground chamber? Is he a lunatic who spins doomsday yarn and shows off his decades of provisions (a jukebox and Tommy James included) or someone who's dead serious when he tells skeptical Michelle, "You don’t know what's out there…"
It is Goodman that makes director's Dan Trachtenberg's debut movie a memorable one. He's polite in the most forced and terrifying of ways. His every overweight move, scowling and smothering, suggests a planet gone south. Even when the bunker-mates relax a bit, buying into his Armageddon story, never once does the menace relinquish its claustrophobic grip.
All will of course go awry, the guests growing too curious, and that's when story dovetails with its fantastic end-of-days predecessor, "Cloverfield," J.J. Abrahms' found-footage 2008 movie about an alien attack.
Winstead is cast as a mix between a submissive yes-girl and a suddenly empowered Wonder Woman, a combination that makes a hash of just who she is, or might be. Gallagher's Emmett is little more than a toss-in. But Trachtenberg keeps you guessing just long enough to keep the dark-skied kicker a small step ahead of the predictable. Now then, cue the apocalypse.Reviewed by: Marcia Yarrow