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First-time director Dan Trachtenberg delivers a claustrophobically compelling psychological horror-mystery – that is arguably the biggest movie surprise of the year so far.

This so-called ‘blood relative’ of Star Wars: The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams’ well-regarded 2008 sci-fi thriller Cloverfield, sees little-known Trachtenberg tear up the movie manual to provide an intense edge-of-your-seat ‘what the heck is going on?’ feature.

Trachtenberg is best known for a film ‘short’ based on iconic video game Portal and Abrams backs him here on production duties.

Waking up from a violent car crash, young New Orleans’ woman Michelle, played by Elizabeth Winstead (The Thing and Die Hard 4.0) – escaping a break-up with her boyfriend (voiced by Bradley Cooper via phone) – finds herself in the basement of ex-Navy man Howard (Roseanne veteran John Goodman), who says he’s saved her life from a chemical attack that’s left the outside world uninhabitable.

He states that the world above them is a ‘danger zone’ that threatens humanity, and she has to work out whether he’s a psycho with a hidden agenda for her – or is it really ‘hell on Earth’ above ground like he claims.

Another person, John Gallagher Jr’s Emmett – who reportedly helped the seemingly unhinged Howard build the ‘Fallout-esque’ bunker which they inhabit – is also thrown into the mix as the three of them try to weigh each other up.

So has there been a nuclear explosion? Has there been an alien attack? Or is it all a tall story to feed Howard’s own fantasy?

With such a brilliant script headlined by terrific performances from the three (virtually only) actors of the piece, it wouldn’t do them any justice to give any hints here to the generally satisfying outcome.

Suffice to say this is cracking stuff that is only slightly hampered by some pacing issues and a few plot holes that prevents it from true greatness.

But with originality oozing from every pore – it isn’t far off it…

Gavin Miller [youtube id=”yQy-ANhnUpE)” width=”600″ height=”350″]

Cast: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr & The Voice Of Bradley Cooper

Running Time: 1 Hr 43 Mins

Director: Dan Trachtenberg

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