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A Hitcockian thriller and some of J.J. Abrams' greatest work. 10 Cloverfield Lane is this year's best thriller. With a cast of three (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr., and John Goodman) it was always going to be a close-knit affair. Locked in a bunker during an 'apocalypse' it soon turns out everything isn't all it seems. John Goodman's turn as the chilling captor/rescuer Howard quickly labels him as this film's big bad, sure Howard made some bad decisions, but what if he wasn't really the man he is painted out to be? SPOILERS AHEAD!
So let's start at the beginning...
The Evidence: Theory: Howard didn't run Michelle off the road.
Waking up in a strange place is always daunting and at first our heroine doesn't understand how she came to be in the quaint bunker. Howard eventually reveals he ran Michelle's car off the road - we clearly see his dinged up car outside the bunker, but a little scratch and some red paint? Does it really look like it was involved in a full on collision?
Theory: The truck driver drove Michelle off the road.
Near the start of the film we see Michelle filling up with gas as a truck pulls up behind her. The camera stops for a little too long on the truck, but it is never seen again. Michelle is clearly nervous that she is being watched and quickly moves on. After taking a phone call from her now ex-fiancee, Michelle is ran off the road. A pretty big ding for little Howard's truck to do. His story says that he accidentally runs her off the road, but a crash like that looks like a side swipe. Someone did it on purpose in a pretty big vehicle...say a truck?
Theory: Emmett is the truck driver.
The third in the group is layabout Emmett, who is quick to buddy up with Michelle. There is something sinister about this man. Him and Howard have a previous relationship where Emmett actually helped build the bunker they reside in. Why would he help Howard build a bunker and why was he always so keen to leave town? Also...he wears a truck driver cap!
Theory: Howard's daughter really did run away.
The big question of where Howard's 'daughter' Megan has gone is one never resolved in the film. What if Howard really thinks she did run away and doesn't know any better? Howard says she moved to Chicago with family, because maybe he believes it is true. If Emmett helped build the bunker, nothing stops him trapping Megan (or Michelle) down there.
Theory: It was Megan in the pictures.
The only one to corroborate against Howard's story is Emmett. He claims that the girl in the pictures is a missing high school girl and not Megan, whereas Howard says it is his runaway daughter. It is as easy for Emmett to lie about the girl in the photographs as it is for Howard. Also, if Howard really murdered a teenage girl, why would you keep the clothes as evidence and then give them to someone you just met? Megan probably was in the pictures, but yes, she died down there, leading us on to...
Theory: Emmett killed Megan.
Something bad clearly happened in the air filtration room as Michelle finds bloody scratches, ladies earrings, and bullet shells. This is probably where Megan died. Everyone thinks John Goodman did it, but that room is only accessible from the outside via the hatch, or inside via a very slender ventilation shaft. There is no way John Goodman is fitting in the ventilation ducts and the HELP was scratched from the inside. This is solid 100% evidence - the padlock which closed that hatch was locked from the inside and we already know that Howard couldn't fit, but Emmett probably could. When Howard volunteers Michelle to fix the filtration system, Emmett offers to go in her place. The only reason he can't physically go is because he has a broken arm, but what if he wanted to go to hide the evidence?
Theory: Why keep Emmett in the bunker?
If Emmett is such a bad guy, why would Howard let him stay? Emmett tells Michelle he forced his way inside the bunker. A broken arm and the injuries he sustained don't come from 'knocking over a shelf' and Howard is a big guy. What if Emmett overpowered Howard and threatened to kill both him and Michelle if they don't co-operate?
Theory: Howard had to kill Emmett.
The biggest shock of the film is when John Goodman unexpectedly pops a bullet into John Gallagher Jr. when Howard realises something is wrong. Emmett lies that he wanted Howard's gun, but this backfired. Howard has no choice but to shoot Emmett, protecting Michelle. Even at the end of the world you want to keep as many people alive as possible, but seeing Emmett as dangerous and making a move for his weapon, Howard's hands were tied.
Theory: Michelle is the daughter Howard misses.
This one is pretty easy, Howard dresses Michelle in his daughter's clothes, saves her from Emmett, then keeps her alive. It explains why he keeps her locked in her own room (away from Emmett), constantly supervises her, and demands a 'no touching' rule between Michelle and Emmett. The longer he can keep them down there, the safer they will be.