10 Cloverfield Lane is a movie that no one saw coming. It’s been 8 years since Cloverfield was released, and while there might have been some clamoring for a sequel at the time it mostly died out a long time ago. Producer J.J. Abrams moved on to other things, including Super 8, the Star Trek reboot, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And while I mostly enjoyed Cloverfield, I liked it more for its boldness the scope it brought to the found footage genre (and it’s shocking trailer) than for the film itself, so the idea of another film in the series never held much interest to me. But despite all of that, here we are with 10 Cloverfield Lane, not exactly a sequel but a “blood relative” to the original monster movie, surprisingly announced only two months ago and which could not be more different both from its predecessor and the bulk of other offerings from Hollywood today. It’s a tight, intense little film that constantly keeps you guessing, both frightening and empowering, anchored by some fantastic performances, bringing a surprising amount of emotion to what is otherwise a thriller. It’s a memorable spinoff to a largely forgettable film which it manages to surpass in every way, and which may have already delivered one of 2016’s best cinematic experiences.