10 Cloverfield Lane is a 2016 American science-fiction psychological thriller film directed by Dan Trachtenberg and written by Josh Campbell, Matthew Stucken, and Damien Chazelle. Starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher, Jr., it is the second film in the Cloverfield franchise. The film was developed from a script titled The Cellar, but under production by Bad Robot, it was turned into a spiritual successor of the 2008 film Cloverfield. The film follows a young woman who, after a car crash, wakes up in an underground bunker with two men who insist that an event has left the surface of Earth uninhabitable.
The film is presented in a third-person narrative, in contrast to its predecessor’s found-footage style. It was released in the United States on March 11, 2016, in conventional and IMAX theaters. The film received positive reviews from critics, with many praising the performances of the cast, as well as the film’s tense and suspenseful atmosphere, and grossed $108 million worldwide.
Following an argument with her fiancé, Michelle leaves New Orleans, driving through rural Louisiana. The car stereo tells of blackouts in major cities. Her car is hit by something and she crashes. She awakes in a concrete room chained to a wall. A man named Howard explains that he saved her life because there has been a massive nuclear or chemical attack, possibly by Martians, which has left everyone dead. She can’t leave because the nuclear/chemical fallout contaminated the air.
Michelle meets Emmett, Howard’s ignorant employee, who witnessed an apocalyptic red flash, and forced his way into Howard’s bunker. Through a window in the outer door, Howard shows Michelle two dead pigs outside that have sores on their bodies, apparently from a chemical weapon. Michelle also sees Howard’s truck, and regains the memory of it forcing her off the road. During the trio’s first dinner together, Michelle steals Howard’s keys and attempts to unlock the final door, when a car pulls up outside. Leslie, a woman suffering from severe skin lesions, emerges from the car and begs to be let in. When she violently tries to break in, Michelle realizes Howard was right, and doesn’t open the door. Howard confesses to her that in his panic during the attack, he accidentally hit her car. As time passes, the trio begins getting along and adapting to life underground. But Howard has little tolerance for Emmet, and only perceives Michelle as a little girl.
When the ventilator fails, Michelle is the only one small enough to crawl through the air duct to the ventilation room, where she finds a padlocked hatch to outside, with the word “HELP” scratched on it. Howard tells Michelle about his daughter, who is gone. Michelle and Emmett eventually detect inconsistencies in his story, including that the picture of his daughter is actually a girl who went missing two years before. They suspect Howard abducted and murdered her, and secretly begin fashioning a makeshift biohazard suit for an escape outside.
Discovering they used his tools, Howard angrily asks them why. Emmett takes the blame; Howard shoots him in the head. Later, he finds the biohazard suit. Michelle flees, coming across Emmett’s body dissolving in perchloric acid. She kicks the acid toward Howard and he falls into the puddle, which starts an electrical fire. Michelle dons the suit and escapes. Outside, she see birds flying, and removes the biomask. However, she spies a tentacled biomechanical craft floating. The bunker explodes from the fire, attracting the craft’s attention, and Michelle is stalked by an alien creature. The craft releases a green gas, forcing her to put the biomask back on. She takes shelter in Howard’s truck, but the craft’s tentacles pick it up and attempt to consume her. She creates a Molotov cocktail and throws it, causing the craft to explode. She is knocked unconscious.
When she awakes, Michelle drives off. On the radio, she hears about successful human resistance efforts. Survivors are directed to evacuate to the north, while those able to aid the fight are directed to Houston. Michelle resolutely heads for Houston, where lights and larger crafts loom.