’10 Cloverfield Lane': ‘Check Your Nerves at the Theater Door,’ and 8 Other Survival Tips From Critics

“Forget monsters … it’s the paranoia and claustrophobia that will kill you,” reviewers say of blood relative to 2008’s “Cloverfield”

J.J. Abrams managed to surprise everyone when he dropped a trailer and an impending release date for the “blood relative” of 2008’s “Cloverfield,” and critics are loving “10 Cloverfield Lane.”

The thriller/drama has a current score of 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and critics are describing the film starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and John Gallagher, Jr., as “tense,” “exhilarating” and one of the “scariest movies” they’ve seen in a long time.

The movie, directed by Dan Trachtenberg, is about aspiring fashion designer Michelle (Winstead) who walks out on a relationship, but after her car goes off the road — in an accident that’s jarringly captured under the opening credits — she wakes up in a knee brace that’s chained to the wall of a cinder-block bunker. Howard (Goodman) appears and informs her that there has been a devastating attack outside which has rendered the air unbreathable, and that he has saved her life by bringing her to his shelter.

“Who’s in there, whether or not they should be, and what’s really happening outside are questions that make up almost all of the plot, and for most of the movie’s 105 minutes, those mysteries are enough to generate tension and suspense amidst the claustrophobia,” TheWrap’s Alonso Duralde wrote in his review.

“10 Cloverfield Lane” opens Friday.

See the eight best reviews below.

Mara Reinstein, US Weekly:
“Check your nerves at the theater door. Take a deep breath while you still can. And then calmly apologize in advance to the person sitting next to you for jumping out of your seat and clutching a stray hand for dear life. There. Now you’re ready to partake in some terrifying fun.”

Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly:
“It’s like a solid ‘Twilight Zone’ episode or second-tier M. Night Shyamalan movie like ‘Signs.’ It’s lean, and taut, and tense, and moves with Swiss-clock precision. Still, it’s not as scary as you want it to be. Honestly, the best thing about it may be its buzz-building top-secret tease of a marketing campaign.”

Tim Grierson, Screen International:
“Forget monsters: in ’10 Cloverfield Lane,’ it’s the paranoia and claustrophobia that will kill you. In this sort-of follow-up to the 2008 found-footage thriller ‘Cloverfield,’ the threat of gigantic creatures rampaging through Manhattan is replaced by a queasy, close-quarters showdown between a scared young woman and the burly, intimidating man who claims to have rescued her from an unseen apocalyptic event.”

Mike Ryan, Uproxx:
“We have to decipher all this nonsense we are hearing and decide for ourselves what’s true and what’s not. It’s all very exhilarating and, at times, it’s one of the scariest movies I’ve seen in a long time. (And the third act is bonkers.)”

Gregory Wakeman, CinemaBlend.com:
“There are one or two spoiler-y plot holes that you’ll unravel later when you begin to think about ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ a bit harder, and there is a degree to which Emmet is ultimately largely extraneous, but the film still hooks, enthralls, and thrills, all while playfully toying with its audience, tipping its hat to its past, and teasing its future.”

Matt Prigge, Metro:
“’10 Cloverfield Lane’ does so much right in such a breezy way, no less in the way it casually avoids casual sexism. Michelle is never sexualized and her pain never fetishized. The only truly vexing bit is that it’s part of a bigger franchise at all. It works fine as its own self-containted unit, and the idea that it’s a small chunk of a bigger world should irk anyone who misses an era, not long ago, when a film could just be a film. At least it puts the big reveal off to the end, and at least it actually really does function as its own thing. Ignore the nudge-nudging about a movie that came out eight years ago and it’s not that hard to see ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ for what it is: a crackerjack exercise not just in genre but genres, with exacting direction, three great performances and a genuine respect for audience patience, intelligence and willingness to be go with a story that drags you hither and thither.”

Kate Erbland, IndieWire:
“Filled with considerable dread and mystery, ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ functions just fine as a standalone genre title. But as a spiritual sequel to the original, it builds out the so-called ‘Cloververse’ far better than could be expected from even the most straightforward of tales.”

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone:
“Carried along by the beats of Bear McCreary’s pulsating score, ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ seems eager to play itself like a B-movie throwaway. It’s anything but. ‘Cloverfield’ producer J.J. Abrams, who just did some ‘Star Wars’ thing, is back on the team, and Damien Chazelle (‘Whiplash’) wrote the script with Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken. Translation: You’re in good hands. As for the movie’s impact — to paraphrase Donald Trump, it’s going to be huge.”