Michelle is the main protagonist of 10 Cloverfield Lane. After having an car accident she wakes up in an underground bunker, alongside two men who told her that there was an attack that left the outside world uninhabitable. She is portrayed by Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Michelle used to live in New Orleans. When she was a child she lived with her parents and her brother Collin, and wanted to design clothes. Every time her father got mad with her, Collin was always there to help her.
One time, while she was inside a hardware store, Michelle saw a young girl with father who was in a hurry, and yanked his daughter's arm which hurt her. This situation reminded Michelle of her youth and tried to help the girl like her brother helped her. However, after seeing the man beating up the girl after she made him fall, Michelle panicked and left.
Events of the movie
Leaving New Orleans
- "Michelle, please don't hang up. Just talk to me, okay? I can't believe you just left. Michelle come back. Please say something. Michelle? Talk to me. Look, we had an argument, couples fight, that is ... no reason to just leave everything behind. Running away isn't going to help anything. Michelle, please ..."
- —Ben calling Michelle after she left her
At some point of her life Michelle met and got engaged with a man named Ben, but left him after having an argument. She drives through Louisiana, until she stops at a gas station to refuel her car when she notices someone on a pickup truck looking at her. After she leaves she is contacted by Ben who begs her to come back, Michelle however doesn't answer to him. After hearing on the radio that several cities are suffering a power surge, Michelle is called by Ben again, but before she could answer, her car is suddenly hit and rolled off the road, knocking her unconscious.
- "There's been an attack.
An attack. A big one. I'm not sure yet if it's chemical, or nuclear, but down here we're safe."
- —Howard and Michelle
When she wakes up she finds herself in a concrete room, with her leg chained to the wall, she manages to get her cell-phone but, unfortunately for her there's no signal as she finds herself underground, then, a man enters the room. Michelle, desperately begs for him to let her go, stating that she wouldn't tell anyone, she also tells him that her boyfriend must be looking for her, but the man tells her that "no one is looking for [her]". After he leaves, Michelle takes the crutch the man gave her, and sharpens it to use it as a weapon. She then burns her blanket to lure the man back to the room. When he enters Michelle tries to ambush him, but she fails to do so as she is sedated by the man.
When she wakes up again she finds the man sitting in front of her, telling her that she has "fight" in her, and that he respects that, Michelle, however still begs him to let her go, but he states that there is nowhere to go, claiming that there has been an attack on the suface outside and that they are safe in the bunker, located under his farm. He also tells her that he brought her in after he found her after her accident, remarking that he saved her life. Michelle thanks him and tells him that she should go to a hospital, but the man insists that they can not leave as the air outside is contaminated. Then he and Michelle hear something falling, to which the man begans to yell at someone outside the room. He then tells her that she needs to eat, sleep, and to show him "a little bit of appreciation". He then leaves the room telling her that his name is Howard.
In the bunker
- "God, oh shit.
I'm sorry, sorry about that. I didn't mean to... scare you. You, hmm, hmm, you hungry?"
- —Michelle and Emmett
After she leaves the room, Michelle is briefly startled by a young man named Emmett, who apologizes and offers her chips. He asked her how she was, and informs her about the current situation, confirming that what Howard told her is true. They are soon joined by Howard, who told her that the chaos she had heard before was caused by Emmett. Then Howard gives Michelle a tour through the bunker and tells her to use his bathroom. She tells him that she does not need to go, but he insists that she must. But Michelle tells him that she needs privacy, to which he tells her to close the curtain as he refuses to let her go unsupervised due to her previous incident with fire.
Michelle hears noises above that sound similar to a car, but Howard denies this, insisting that the surface is contaminated. She tells him that they should at least try to contact someone, but Howard states that that is useless. He then decides to show Michelle his pigs Frank and Mildred, who are burned. Howard states that that is what happens when someone is exposed to the air. Michelle then sees Howard's truck, remembering it from the gas station, and realized that he was the one who crashed into her car.
Later on her room, Michelle is joined by Emmett who jokingly comments that although it is the end of the world Howard is only upset by the dead pigs. Michelle then asks him about what he knows of Stambler, to which he tells her that he knows that he was in the Navy and that he did "some stuff with satellites." He also tells her about his time helping him to build the bunker. Michelle however, doesn't believe what Howard is telling them, believing that he kidnapped her, but Emmett tells her that he saw when the attack started, claiming that he was returning from work when he saw a bright red flash that looked like "something you’d read about in the bible", Michelle however still doesn’t believe this and states that it could have been fireworks or fire that cleared up, but Emmett keep insisting that what is happening is real. They are interrupted by Howard again who tells them that the dinner is ready.
- "Please open the door. Open it.
She's begging me!
You can't help her! Nobody can."
- —Leslie, Michelle and Howard
At dinner Emmett talks about that he regrets not being able to get himself a tattoo, and then comments that they could spend their time in the bunker playing board games, but his comments only annoys Howard, who tells him to stop talking and to let him and Michelle eat their dinner. Michelle then asks Emmett to pass her a napkin, and tells him about the board games she used to play as a child. Then she asks him again to pass her the salt, and in the process flirt with him, but Howard, enraged, sees this as an insult and demands her to tell him what she’s up to. Emmett tries to calm Howard, but he tells him to shut up, then while he was not looking Michelle steals Howard's keys. Howard then makes Michelle apologize and promise that she will behave.
Then, just when Howard realises that he has lost his keys, the group hears a car above. Michelle grabs a glass bottle a breaks it over Howard's head and tries to escape. Howard goes after her, and when Michelle was going to open the second door, a woman appears, with her face blistered and scarred, and begs Michelle to let her in, but Howard tells her to not do it as she was exposed. Then, with a more aggressive tone the woman demands her to open the door, but he tells her that she can't help her. The woman then begins to smash her head against the window until she collapses.
After the incident Howard confesses to Michelle that he crashed into her car, saying that he was in a rush after he found out about the attack. After a shower Howard tells Michelle to help him stitch his injury up although Michelle states that she is not qualified, but Howard tells her that he will guide her. Later Howard tells Michelle about his daughter Megan, who moved to Chicago with her mother after she "turned her against him", and shows a picture of her. After that Michelle is comforted by Emmett who tells her that there was nothing she could do for the woman. He then tells her about his life, and that he regretted not being able to assist to the Louisiana State University, and she tells him when she regrets of a time when she didn't help a little girl with being yanked hard by dad.
Finding out the truth
- "Wait, that's not Megan... She went missing, two years back. It was on the news and everything. Most people just thought she skipped town.
There is a message up there. It said 'HELP'. It was scratched on the inside of the window. This earring was with it. Did she ever show up, after she went missing?"
- —Emmett and Michelle
When she returned she told Emmett what she found, telling him that she saw that earring on the photo Howard show her of Megan, believing that he killed her. But after seeing the photo Emmett claims that that is not Megan, but instead Brittany, a local girl who went missing two years prior. They soon realize that Howard kidnapped and killed her, so Emmett suggests to get his weapon and to tie him up to make him confess, as he states that they can’t be the only survivors. They are briefly interrupted by Howard who congratulates them stating that that is a great example of teamwork and starts dancing to some music, telling Michelle to take a shower.
Making the suit
- "If Howard find this, he's going to kill us.
Alright, so, we get the gun away from him, tie him up, make sure he isn't going anywhere. And then one of us just.. goes out, and looks for help."
- —Michelle and Emmett
Later Michelle figures out a plan to make a bio-suit with Howard's shower curtain. To get the curtain Emmett tells Howard that Michelle might have contaminated the shower after she went to fix the air system, to which makes Howard throw the curtain into the trash, which is later recovered by Emmett and Michelle. After making some sketches she begins to make the suit, using several of Howard's tools. Later at a game night, she and Emmett are almost discovered by Howard.While she was working on the suit, Howard calls Michelle and Emmett to help him move a barrell to his room. Once Howard reveals that the barrel contains sulphuric acid, he tells them that he discovered that some of his tools went missing and threatened to kill both of them with the acid if they didn't confess. Emmett takes full responsibility and claims that he was trying to get Howard's gun so Michelle could respect him, but states that she knew nothing, and apologizes. Although Howard says he accepts his apology he suddently shoots him in the head, killing him instantly. He then comforts Michelle saying that that was "the way it was always supposed to be".
- "You're going to walk out on me? After I saved you? And kept you safe? This is how you re-pay me?
- —Howard and Michell
She gets the suit on her room, but is corned again by Howard again, but she throws a shelve at him knocking him unconsious, and escapes through the vents but Howard tries to attack Michelle with a knife. In a desperate effort he begs Michelle to stay with him as she can’t run from the aliens. Passing through the air system room she uses a chemical coolant to freeze and break the padlock to open the hatch, finally escaping from the bunker.
A close encounter
- "Oh come on."
- —Michelle after seeing the Alien Ship
After escaping she her suit cracks, and she desperatly tries to fix it, but then she notices some birds flyings and realizing that the the air is not contaminated, she removes her mask. But then she sees an Alien Spacecraft flying in the distance. Then Howard's bunker explodes drawing the craft's attention. The ship deploys an unknown alien creature, forcing Michelle to hide inside a shed, where she finds Leslie's corpse and takes her keys.She then tries to hide in the house, but is ambushed by the alien ship, which throws a toxic gas at her, but she survived as she put her helmet on and takes shelter inside of Howard's truck, but before entering the alien creature removes her helmet. Then the ship captures her car using it's tentacles. Michelle then realized that the ship's toxic gas is flammable, and she crafts a Molotov cocktail and, just as the ship was going to consume her, throws the cocktail at the Ship's mouth, which cause a chain reaction, destroying it, and drops the truck.
No longer running away
- "The Military has taken back the Southern seaboard. If you are hearing this an aren't in a safe zone, head north to Barthon Rouge. But if you have any medical training or combat experience, we need help. There are people in Houston. There are survivors in Mercy Hospital. Please Help. Repeat, there are people in Houston who need our help. Come join us, we've taken back the Southern seaboard and we're winning. If you have any medical training or combat experience there are survivors..."
- —Michelle hering the radio transmission
Michelle wakes up, watching the spacecraft on fire falling to the ground. After the encounter Michelle leaves the farm on Leslie's car. While driving she hears a radio transmission that says that humans had succesfuly recovered the southern coast, stating that they need people on Houston with medical training and/or combat experience. Without a second thought she heads to Houston to help the resistance. But unknown to her a much larger ship heads towards the city.
Personality and Traits
- "I do what I always do when things get hard: i just panicked and ran."
- —Michelle to Emmett
- Even though Mary Elizabeth Winstead is barefoot through out the movie. In an interview she stated in a lot of the close up shots she was wearing slip on shoes or flip flops.