As confusing as Prometheus in the goal of the plot, 10 Cloverfield Lane was rumored a sequel of Cloverfield, then a prequel of Cloverfield, then completely unrelated, then a re-imagining, back to a pseudo-prequel that everyone will just make their own interpretation on. So...like I said, Prometheus. However, with a property like Cloverfield, you aren't dealing with a storied franchise as popular and religiously followed as Alien. The chances of "butchering" a pseudo-prequel is far less likely or damaging. You essentially have free reign, and to some, you couldn't do worse than the original.
So what you get in 10 Cloverfield Lane is what many have alluded to; it's really not a prequel or a sequel, but maybe a "different perspective on the same event?" approach. And that's what makes this psychological mystery thriller all the more enjoyable to consume. You don't know what you're getting until the credits role.
In 10 Cloverfield Lane, we follow our protagonist Michelle (Mary Winstead) as she awakens in a bunker after a car wreck with unstable genius Howard (John Goodman) and the somewhat slow but kind-hearted Emmett. Howard informs Michelle that she can't go outside after a perceived chemical attack and must adjust to her indefinite life underground with him and Emmett. As Michelle unravels the mystery of Howard, Emmett, the bunker, and the events that led her there, we are thrown through a wild goose chase of possibilities until the climactic finale.
As with any post-apocalyptic bunker film (that's practically becoming a sub genre), the acting and character development is paramount to building tension. Goodman is fantastic as the titular antagonist, partly because his personality comes across as evil despite his unrelenting good deeds. Because his actions and words are in a constant flux of contradiction, you are as confused by his endgame motivations as the captors/survivors. And are they captors or survivors? These questions drilling through your mind are what make the film such a pleasure to watch.
The acting was grand throughout, carried by Winstead and Goodman as they clash subtly and ferociously in the bunker. As truths wash in and out like the tide, you are latched on to a story that reminds one of a standalone episode of The Outer Limits. And Cloverfield or not, this film leaves you wanting more. And not necessarily carrying the same story, but just more of the same. Just like the good ol' days of scifi romps that give you an entire world paced across a film's natural runtime. Abrams should really bring more of the same to the screen, because films like these are what leave you thinking and smiling leaving the theater, and that's what it's all about.