New to On Demand: 10 Cloverfield Lane

What is 10 Cloverfield Lane? The new film has an aura of the unknown and leaves critics like myself scratching our collective head about how much to expose, without giving away the surprises.

After a disagreement with her significant other, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has set off on her own, presumably to start over. But this journey is far from uneventful as she finds herself in a cold and colorless room with a man she does not know. Howard (John Goodman) tells her that she was found after a car accident and that he saved her.

Howard later informs Michelle that she cannot leave his underground bunker because the area has come under attack. It’s either nuclear or chemical — he doesn’t know which — but they must stay in this home under the ground until it is safe to return to the surface. How long will that be? No one really knows.

Another strange man also inhabits the bunker. Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) helped Howard build the bunker, and when the craziness started on the surface, he begged his way into this sunken shelter. Together, the three of them are set to live out the years to come in this cavernous home. Can they exist together? Or will the virtual paranoia that comes from this confined existence be their undoing?

A film filled with surprises, 10 Cloverfield Lane deserves to be seen with no knowledge of what is to come. The trailers are decidedly vague and leave us speculating as the film unspools. I wondered aloud, as the plot unfolded, just who is Goodman’s character Howard? Goodman delivers a performance that makes you question the motive behind his smallest actions.

Gallagher is equally mysterious as Emmett. Just why is he there — and is he a good guy, a bad guy or just a guy? With only three principal characters in the film, we must know: Which one is he and whose side is he on?

Winstead’s performance as our heroine Michelle reveals a woman who is strong, but constantly running. She needs to know what brought her to this remote location and isn’t immediately trusting of the men around her. Winstead delivers a performance that finds us cheering for her success and waiting with anticipation for her next move. Winstead’s interactions with Goodman show a trust and distrust all at the same time, which lends credence to our own paranoia as we view the film.

And what horrors have taken place in the outside world?

You will jump at some of the shocking moments while wondering if it was the Russians, the North Koreans or some wacky conspiracy theory that impacted the world. To know the answers, you’ll have to experience the world of 10 Cloverfield Lane. Are these three individuals surviving the end of the world — or just surviving?

10 Cloverfield Lane is available beginning June 14 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.