I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

10 Cloverfield Lane

tn_10cloverfieldlaneA couple weeks ago I reviewed that movie ROOM and even though it was a world class best picture nominee type of movie I said it should have DTV sequels like the similarly locationally limited indie CUBE did about a decade back. It could just be another story about another room that people are stuck in. Well, little did I know that they’d do something like that but it would be released theatrically and it would be a J.J. Abrams (JOY RIDE) production, not called ROOM2 or ROOM: REDEMPTION but 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE.

That title may make you think it’s gonna feature Cloverfield, the popular lasagna swilling, Monday-hating, Nermal, Odie and Jon abusing asshole giant monster character from Matt Reeves’s Abrams production CLOVERFIELD, but it’s not. It’s also not done in found footage style, instead it’s modeled after the look of a professional movie. It would’ve been cool if there was a part where T.J. Miller runs by with a camcorder, but I think the title is just a coincidence. It’s kinda like how Rob Cohen directed DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY, DRAGONHEART and THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR, but those aren’t necessarily a trilogy in my opinion.

So no, this one is more like ROOM, but with a different lady in a different room with a different skylight and a different idea about the world outside. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER) plays Michelle, who in a silent prologue is seen abandoning her husband or fiancee (we never see him, but his telephone voice is Bradley Cooper [THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN]). Then she gets in a car accident out in the boonies and wakes up in a strange room with an I.V. drip and a leg brace. This doesn’t look like a hospital though, mainly because she’s on a mattress on the floor, and the door is like a vault, and also she’s shackled to a pipe, and she doesn’t even have a call button in case she needs a nurse to help her go to the bathroom.

What the shit is going on? Better ask Howard (John Goodman, DEATH SENTENCE), the weirdo who brings her food, says he saved her life and is frustratingly unhelpful about explaining. He may or may not be a total sweetheart who accidentally comes across like a creepo when you don’t know the whole story.

mp_10cloverfieldlaneWhen he lets her out of the room it turns out she’s in his survivalist bunker. There’s also a storage closet full of canned food and a living room and some other stuff. It’s pretty well decorated and there’s a jukebox and a fine collection of movies on DVD and “VHS cassette,” he explains. There’s a younger guy there named Emmett (John Gallagher Jr., JONAH HEX), who’s also injured, but says he’s there by choice. Howard claims – and Emmett agrees – that there has been some kind of attack, chemical or nuclear, that means the air outside of the bunker will kill them almost instantly. But Howard mentions The Russians and even The Martians when he tells Michelle about it, so she takes it with a grain of salt, you could say.

This is a tense thriller, and some of the suspense is based on what information you don’t know or aren’t sure about, so beware of the spoilers. Michelle doesn’t know if Howard is lying to her, or if he’s just crazy, or what. Whatever it is he’s a creepy dude keeping them locked in and constantly demanding their gratitude and other uncomfortable shit. At worst he’s a psychotic kidnapper, at best he’s a terrible roommate.

Director Dan Trachtenberg creates several very effective sequences involving secret motives, chases and fights. He also finds some interesting visual details to help convey the story. I like the way a shot of Michelle’s neatly painted fingernails gripping the steering wheel in the opening is reflected in later shots as her nails become increasingly chipped.

Michelle herself is not gonna be worn down like that. The closest she ever comes to being passive is knowing when to tell a dangerous man what he wants to hear while biding her time to execute a plan. She’s very resourceful, too. She has an especially admirable knack for APOLLO-13ing found objects into tools, weapons and survival gear.

I hope I’m not speaking out of turn in saying that we, America, might have a crush on Winstead and her talents. Of course she can pull off cartoon blue-haired dream girl in the SCOTT PILGRIM one, but in my opinion she never got enough credit for her harrowing performance as an alcoholic in SMASHED, or even her tough scientist survivor in THE (unwanted) THING (premaquel). Here she reminds us that she’s Lucy McClane because she wears a white tank top for most of the movie and she’s barefoot and climbing through an air duct.

"Come out to my bunker, we'll get together, have a few laughs."
“Come out to my bunker, we’ll get together, have a few laughs.”

Winstead and the script really sell Michelle as a woman with the mental and physical resilience to climb out of any hole. That includes the literal one she’s in and the figurative ones she’ll still be in when she reaches the surface.

SPOILER THIS PARAGRAPH ABOUT WHAT IS GOING ON IN THIS MOVIE DO NOT READ OR SKIM THIS PARAGRAPH UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. In the end it turns out John Goodman’s character actually died of a heart attack a while back and this was just a short story written by Roseanne. Or am I confusing it with the last season of Roseanne? Come to think of it it turns out there was an alien attack, and what we have here is ROOM vs. WAR OF THE WORLDS. The influence of Spielberg’s alien invasion tale is impossible to miss, but I’m not against it. Michelle survived rooming with that nut from BARTON FINK, why not take on an inexplicable space ship and attack worm? And before I leave the spoiler area let me ask you about her choice to accept the call at the end: does she consider stitching and then killing Howard to be her medical and combat experience?

It does end on a there-could-be-a-sequel-to-this type note, but to be honest that is not an adventure I feel the need to see. It doesn’t seem like a mythology we need to explore further. But it’s a fun one-timer.

Abrams is no stranger to Twilight Zone type stories that take place in limited locations. At least according to something I read somewhere, I think it said there was an episode of his show Felicity that was done in the style of The Twilight Zone and took place all inside a box or something. I mean who knows, really? But though Abrams is the name brand on this thing, he’s just the producer. Director Trachtenberg (key grip, PHANTASM OBLIVION) is known for the short video game fan film PORTAL: NO ESCAPE, which has kind of a similar set up, and this is his feature directing debut. The story is by Josh Campbell (assistant editor, BLADE II) & Matthew Stuecken (associate producer, G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA), screenplay by those two and Damien Chazelle (writer of GRAND PIANO, writer/director of WHIPLASH).

I actually heard someone in the lobby complaining about the title being 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE, that it was misleading, and she didn’t seem mad but I think she was pretty disappointed by the expectations it set up. And I have to agree, this is a MAJOR screwup on an otherwise fine little thriller. Because wouldn’t the actual house be 10 Cloverfield Lane, and then the bunker would be Suite B or something?

Get your shit together, Hollywood.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Monday, March 14th, 2016 at 9:00 am and is filed under Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

56 Responses to “10 Cloverfield Lane”

  1. “I hope I’m not speaking out of turn in saying that we, America, might have a crush on Winstead and her talents.”

    YUP!

  2. Crushinator Jones

    March 14th, 2016 at 10:27 am

    Yeah Winstead is cool, and she fucking ROASTED a guy on Twitter over the weekend with a quip. Class act.

  3. Back off, America. I’ve had dibs since FINAL DESTINATION 3.

  4. I’m sure this movie is good and all, but you can’t try and tell me they didn’t know what they were doing with that title. Unless there’s a monster at the end of this movie or there’s some plot detail that necessitated the street being named “Cloverfield,” this is a deliberate attempt to mislead people into thinking franchise. Very skeezy move in my book. I mean, what, you’re going to try and tell me there was nobody on the production who remembered that OTHER J.J. Abrams-produced movie with the same title?

  5. Excellent movie that is so good it overcomes it’s absolutely terrible final 15 minutes.

  6. Mr. Subtlety, it’s like the time the studio let Halloween 3: Season of the Witch slip by…

  7. Dave — well, at least that was a genuine attempt at an anthology franchise. They didn’t just slap the same name onto an unrelated movie, they deliberately made a third sequel that was doing something different. It didn’t take, but at least it was an honest attempt. Here –at least as far as I know– there’s nothing which even thematically links the two CLOVERFIELD movies, and the producers seem confused and change the subject whenever anyone asks about it.

  8. Final Destination 3? That’s cute. SKY HIGH, MOTHERFUCKER!

  9. I also think the title takes any ambiguity out of it. If it was called BUNKER or something, there might be some doubt about how things will shake out when the hatch gets opened. Not so much when you’ve linked your story to another sci-fi monster movie that tried to sell itself on a big mystery that didn’t exist.

  10. I mean, I haven’t seen the movie or anything, but I noticed the trailers clearly include shots of some kinda crazy sci-fi or magical mumbo jumbo happening to the outside of the house. But then those same trailers also play up the idea that maybe Goodman’s nuts and making this all up. Which, uh. Hmmm. Not sure what they’re going for there.

  11. I’m sorry, I thought I was amongst sane wo/men. The kind of wo/men with the intellectual fortitude and cunning. The kind of wo/men who live by principal and teach by example. The kind of wo/men who recognize the strength of a slow caress and the vulnerability of a puffed-chest. The kind of wo/men who know the difference between abstention and dereliction. The kind of wo/men who appreciate Halloween III: Season of the Witch as a delightful and unique piece of gory nonsense.

  12. Seriously, imagine a timeline where Halloween III was a hit and they went whole hog on the anthology concept. Imagine if it was –

    Halloween IV: The Fog.
    Halloween V: The Thing.
    Halloween VI: Star Man.
    Halloween VII: Prince of Darkness.
    Halloween VIII: They Live.

    Or you could do it without the numbers, maybe switch it to the calendar year as a branding thing.

    Just think about what that would have done for Carpenter’s career. He kept making great movies and sometimes… No one saw them. They got lost in the shuffle. The wonderful idiosyncrasies of his output are why the films endure, but they also regularly baffled audiences. Since apparently carpenter’s *actual* name wasn’t working as a brand, Halloween would have been a pretty stellar second option.

    Similarly, I’m down with a theatrical anthology series where the connecting gimmick is elevated concept scifi thrillers told from an unexpected point of view. It’s a smart middle ground between remakes and sequels and underfunded originals that never meet their full potential because of effects budget, or short shooting schedule, or the limitations of the actors.

    Personally, I would prefer if aliens weren’t the punchline this time. Even if the monster in part one was from under the sea… It was still functionally identical to an alien, (Specifically, the slimey neon-red alien on Spock’s ice planet), doing ‘EM back to back with such a similar kind of payoff might box them into a corner. A different kind of gooey beast would have opened things up for future installments, but I guess it coulda backfired and made sure there were no future installments if John Goodman was a werewolf or something.

    Post Script: Somehow Carpenter never really became a name brand until after studios stopped letting him make movies. I feel like studios were more excited about Carpenter throwbacks than then ever were about making an OG Carpenter joint.

  13. The plot reminds me of that METAL HURLANT CHRONICLES tv show episode where Michelle Ryan wakes up inside James Marsters’ shelter and he tells her that nukes (or is it poisonous gas?) destroyed the world and she needs to stay inside or she’ll die except he keeps acting like a total creep and so she doesn’t believe him and tries to escape.
    By the way, METAL HURLANT CHRONICLES isn’t great, but Scott Adkins stars in 2 episodes, and there’s also 1 with Michael Jai White and Darren Shahlavi and 1 with Rutger Hauer, I don’t know if you guys already know about the show but it’s not terrible so some of you might be interested.

  14. Despite my snarky comment, I really do hope you guys give it a chance because it is good
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    I GUESS SPOILER WARNING
    (except for y’know the easily ignore-able and walk out-able last 15-minutes where they replace a pants-pissingly scary John Goodman with a not 1/10th as scary tape-worm monster and the easiest to kill sentient spaceship ever).
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  15. I agree with the above. This is a small-scale thriller with some pretty unexpected shocks in it. The problem with the ending is the film hasn’t the confidence to pick one, and it makes the preceding 90-minutes less meaningful. I was surprised how good this was until that point, as I’m not on record as someone who enjoyed the first Cloverfield.

  16. I was joking about the title, but I think it’s an honest attempt to use the meaningless word as kind of a brand name for a type of low budget but mainstream sci-fi movie. It is responsible for the movie doing well, but I doubt many were tricked into thinking it was a CLOVERFIELD sequel. It’s because we went “Wait, what? *Is* that related to CLOVERFIELD?” and then spend a minute using modern technology to read about it and knew that it wasn’t but were still intrigued because people said it was good.

  17. Tawdry: apparently, the monster in the first CLOVERFIELD was indeed an alien. I haven’t been back to watch it again, but I’ve read that there’s some sort of meteorite-ish thing that splashes down in the margins of one of the flashback videos. So yes, aliens. The universe is full of lizards.

  18. From what I’ve read, the monster in the first CLOVERFIELD was not actually an alien at all – the satellite that crashes into the ocean at the very end of the film lead to the discovery / awakening of the monster etc but the monster was definitely of terrestrial origins.

    I’m with Vern regarding the title. I know that a lot of folks think this is a sleazy attempt to hoodwink people into seeing the movie (and maybe it is), but anyone with 30 seconds of spare time can look this thing up and find multiple examples of Abrams and Trachtenberg explaining that the use of the CLOVERFIELD title is a way to collect and tell interesting genre stories from a human point of view.

    I’m not denying that Abrams is a large-scale huckster, but when the furthest he is prepared to go to connect the two films is to refer to this one as a “blood relative” then to me the team behind this were pretty transparent in trying to get the word out there that it wasn’t a sequel. It’s also really funny to me that CLOVERFIELD is a completely arbitrary title anyway as it’s just the name of a street close to where the Bad Robot production offices are located.

    Also regarding the original version of the script and the changes made (SPOILERS) from what I understand a lot more than just the ending (which I loved but completely understand why other’s wouldn’t) was altered. And the film went into production with this updated version of the script, not that shit started getting monkeyed around with during the shoot. Like, regarding what Subtlety said about the crazy shit happening outside the house – the audience is clued into the fact that Goodman isn’t making shit up at the first act break. In the original script, this is only revealed to Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character in the final shot of the film. For those who have seen the movie, that first act break reveal completely alters the course of the plot so I’m assuming the script went through some pretty major rewriting and restructuring phases before the cameras rolled.

    Not trying to sway anyone’s opinion regarding the final 15 minutes, just that I think there is a more going on here regarding the revision of the script than just slapping a new ending onto it so that they can use the word CLOVERFIELD in the title.

  19. SPOILER, perhaps
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    So I must be kind of moron or weirdo or something for having just assumed going into the theater that this was, if not exactly a sequel to that one movie from 2008, at least some manner of related adventure from that universe. I generally like to go into these things cold, and don’t tend to keep up with surrounding news / hype surrounding the films of the cinema and so I wasn’t really privy to any other context beyond the title and poster image. For that reason, the whole first-act question about whether or not Howard was bullshitting about the chaos which may or may not have been going on above ground seemed like an utter waste of time to me, as I was taking for granted that, not only was there was all manner of Cloverfield-related mayhem going on, but that this was an inference I had made in common with every single other member of the audience, and the movie-going public as a whole. Did I really just not understand how to watch this otherwise-unremarkable little movie?

  20. From what I read, the earlier version of the script had Michelle as a much more passive character, not doing all the MacGyver shit throughout, which is a big part of the appeal of the movie.

  21. (SPOILERS)
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    Dan – I think most people going to see the movie based on either the basis of the name or the trailers they’ve seen knew that some crazy shit was going to be going down at some point. But regarding the *characters* in the film I didn’t find the build up to the first act reveal to be a waste of time at all. And to be honest once Emmet’s introduced the likelihood of Howard making everything up diminishes to almost zero anyway. For me it was about waiting for the penny to drop for Michelle. And also by positioning the reveal so early into the movie, I thought that it was a neat way for the script to spin off into some really interesting and unexpected directions.

    Sorry that you found it unremarkable aside from the CLOVERFIELD-related stuff, it sounds like a pretty miserable theatre going experience for you (and lord knows I’ve had my share of those). I actually thought the movie brought a bunch of really interesting stuff to the table and executed its ideas in neat and interesting ways. I also love how it just barrelled through as many genres as it could think of without looking back.

    The more I think about this one the more I like it.

  22. Man, could I have used the word “interesting” more than I just did??

  23. I’ll pass on this but it’s great to hear all over the net that Goodman is back in BARTON FINK mode. People tend to forget how fucking good he really is.

  24. MIXALOT – Yeah I remember Matt Reeves stating that the monster was lying dormant for thousands of years Godzilla style. Before being awakened by the crashing satellite.

  25. When the world has drowned in atomic fire and everything is dust I will still remember Vern and his agile deflections of his (presumably) vast Felicity knowledge.

  26. Good review, as always. I’ve been following your reviews and views for years. I’m not a usual commenter though. But here I go. I liked it pretty much. I would watch it again. For me, the ending seemed too easy and unsatisfying. Went from “the room” level to the “divergent” level. I’m not sure I need to see the sequels. But I probably will.

  27. Do you mean ROOM – the Oscar-nominated character study starring Bree Larson; or THE ROOM – the universally reviled “movie” written/directed/produced/starring Tommy Wiesau?

  28. Dan,

    The dude two seats down from me had largely the same experience during Broke Back Mountain.

    His girlfriend must’ve picked the movie because, just before the first sex scene between Jake and Heath, he leaned over to her and said, “Jeez, it’s almost like they’re gonna kiss.”

    From that moment on, Ang Lee’s beautiful-but-boilerplate Queer Tragedy transformed into one of the most hysterical examples of visible shock and discomfort I have ever seen.

    To the dude’s credit, he stayed till the end and, in a moment that totally redeemed a movie I had written off as trope-y and predictable, he broke down crying at the bit where Heath smells Jake’s jacket.

  29. (SPOILERS)
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    I mentioned in the CLOVERFIELD: OG thread that I was surprised at the lack of coverage over what I thought were pretty overt origin story motifs running throughout the latest CLOVERFIELD 10: IN NAME ONLY joint (right down to the superhero outfit that Michelle makes for herself and wears at the end as she heads to Houston to save the day) so it was interesting to see it mentioned by the director here

    The Director Of 10 Cloverfield Lane Explains All About That Wild Ending

    We all went into 10 Cloverfield Lane wondering how it connects to the original Cloverfield. We walked out of it analysing the totally bonkers ending, ...

  30. I saw this yesterday, and it’s just a fabulously well constructed thriller that they don’t make often enough. The film really pays attention to all these little details, like Winstead’s nail polish, the half painted room with the burnt out light, and even the sound of the door opening. You could tell that because the location was limited and the story was relatively contained, they really thought about every little aspect of this world.

    And if using the Cloverfield name gets mid-level genre pictures into theaters, then I’m all about it. It was a smart move that looks like it paid off.

    [Spoilers]

    I know some people didn’t like the ending, but if you’re going to tease aliens, then you better show us some goddamn aliens. (Also, Winstead’s, “Oh, come one,” sold the change in tone). The one gripe I have is that the makeshift Molotov cocktail was maybe a bit much. Otherwise, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie.

  31. “Michelle herself is not gonna be worn down like that. The closest she ever comes to being passive is knowing when to tell a dangerous man what he wants to hear while biding her time to execute a plan. She’s very resourceful, too. She has an especially admirable knack for APOLLO-13ing found objects into tools, weapons and survival gear.”

    I kinda feel that could have been handled a bit more gradually, because late on in the movie, she tells Emmett that story about the little girl and how she reacted at the time and how she did what she always did, panic and run away when things get tough. That doesn’t sound like the sort of person who be so proactive from the get-go, fashioning a crutch into a spear and starting a fire to cause an ambush etc.
    Which brings me to something else:

    SPOILER

    Did anyone else think early on that Michelle herself could have had some dark secret,, or that she at least wasn’t as innocent as she seemed? That intro was pretty foreboding to me in the silence, and the fact they made a point of showing her take the bottle of booze(drinking problem?). As she’s driving and fuelling the car she’s constantly looking around with some anxiousness, like she’s worried someone’s going to see her or be following her for some reason. She’s really good at manipulating Howard too, like in the dinner scene where she gets his keys.
    Maybe I was over-thinking and trying not to take everyone at face value too much, when really the movie is a pro-feminist, anti-patriarchal movie about a woman taking control of her life and fighting, perhaps done a little too on the nose(the one decent man in the story has to die to further her story, the “Stand and fight” and “Run away and hide” voices on the radio are female and male respectively), but it’s pretty clear.

    As for the title controversy, my take is that between the designs of the aliens being so monstery and the convenience of the lack of information the characters have for most of the story, the movie isn’t necessarily related to CLOVERFIELD, but it can be if you want to consider the monster from the first movies as part of some alien invasion plan (even with the “buried under the earth for thousands of years” origin).

  32. SPOILER FOR A MINOR SIGHT GAG BUT ONE THAT IS INCREDIBLY RELEVANT SO I DONT WANT TO RUIN IT FOR ANYONE WHO HASNT SEEN YET OR DIDNT CATCH IT THE FIRST TIME!!!!!!

    Dude, they sell Slusho at the gas station. It’s Cloverfield.

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    They also sell Slusho in Abrams’ STAR TREK. That doesn’t make the movie in the same universe.

  34. Yes it does! And red matter means these universes are also connect to Alias!

  35. SPOILERs
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    Stu – I was thinking the exact same thing. She’s McGyvering shit from the moment she wakes up in that basement, taking charge of the situation. Completely different from the story she told about always running away from trouble (although she did do that in the opening minutes I guess).

    Also, by the end when she’s making the choice and heard that stuff on the radio about “if you have combat experience” I was also contemplating whether she had some ex-Navy Seal past, or was secretly trained by ninjas or whatever and that’s why she handled the Howard situation so expertly. I actually think something like that would have been a cool reveal that might have set the story apart from all the other dozens of times it’s been done in movies an tv.

    The only thing is, if she did in fact have combat training and was more of a badass than she was letting on, I’m sure she could’ve found a simpler way to get rid of Howard much earlier in the film. It would not have been believable that she’d even have that much trouble escaping from him.

  36. The Original Paul

    March 21st, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Ok, before I go on, this was yet another instance of a bad screening (and not even at the ODEON this time). I actually complained to the cinema staff about this one. I came out of it with a headache. That gunshot felt like it took my fuckin’ head off.

    This may account for some latent crankiness in my thoughts on this one. So if I seem a little more negative than is justified, that’s part of it.

    SPOILERS AHOY.

    Well I went into this one “unspoiled”, and for the first third of it or so, it kept me guessing. Then I stopped guessing, because I stopped caring.

    I’m with Dan on this one. A well-made but otherwise thoroughly generic horror movie, largely saved by Winstead being Winstead and Goodman being Goodman. (I still love you MEW.) Although I have to say that seeing John Goodman in this after watching BARTON FINK was like seeing Al Pacino in THE RECRUIT after watching SCARFACE.

    Also it ripped off WAR OF THE WORLDS. You might recall me saying that after I’d finished watching that movie, I sat and stared at a wall for two hours. (No exaggeration. I’m pretty sure that’s what people who’ve suffered some form of psychological trauma do, and if anything describes WAR OF THE WORLDS 2005, it’s “some form of psychological trauma”.) I don’t think I’ve ever had a worse experience of just watching a DVD than WotW, and I sure as heck didn’t want to be reminded of it here. Also, while WotW is a very well-made movie in some ways, it’s an exceedingly stupid one in others; and the bit that CLOVERFIELD LANE shamelessly rips off is possibly the stupidest bit of all.

    Oh, and CLOVERFIELD LANE does the “character trapped in a tight space while stabbing weapons penetrate the walls” thing that monster movies and slasher flicks have been doing since, as far as I can recall, the 1980s (although there are probably others that I’d forgotten or simply didn’t know about before then.) So that’s still a “thing”.

    I’m nitpicking here, but I do think the movie is largely well-made. The trouble with describing what’s wrong with it is that most of the stuff that’s wrong isn’t stuff that’s in the movie – it’s stuff that’s missing. For example:

    – It’s strongly suggested that one of the main characters of this movie killed a child at some point before the movie began. We don’t know anything about this child, we don’t know who she was, we don’t know what happened to her or why. There’s no suggestion that the character in question is a child molestor or rapist, and nor is there any suggestion that the child might’ve learnt something about him that he needed to stop her revealing by silencing her. There’s a strong suggestion about how the body was disposed of, but that’s about as graphic a detail as we get. I’m all for leaving stuff to the imagination, but there should at least be a sense that there’s something to be emotionally attached to. In this case the “child” is a message on a window (how’s that still there and how did another character not know about it, by the way?) as well as an earring and a photograph. And that’s pretty much it.

    – The “outside threat” is built up throughout the movie. When it’s revealed, it’s a huge letdown. We never get to know too much about the threat, and what we do know about it is frustratingly incoherent. When will these monsters learn that grabbing your most intelligent enemy and holding them right next to your only vulnerable spot is not good battle tactics?

    Again, I love Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and I think she’s really talented when well-directed. She wasn’t well-directed here. After the bit with the earring, she spends basically the rest of the film staring at Goodman like he has two heads or something. Before that point, they were practically a family. I know that there had to be some fear there, but it should’ve been a sideways glance when Goodman wasn’t looking or something. Not retreating back into the same state that she was in at the very beginning of the film after first encountering him. It was her plan to deceive him; wouldn’t it have made sense for them to show her actually trying to do that, instead of staring at him in obvious paralysed fear when they’d been practically friends the day before?

    More nitpicks… but this wasn’t great for me, guys. It held my interest for the first third or so, then the holes in its design became more and more frustratingly obvious. Mixalot suggested above that this was a rewrite. It felt like a rewrite, not a completed movie based on a single vision. I don’t agree with RBatty though. I didn’t think this was well-thought-out at all. They made some great use of the limited space, the claustrophobia, and the different “rooms”. I’ll agree with that. Again, it was well-made. But it wasn’t particularly well thought-out. Not bad, but definitely a disappointment.

  37. Fred and Stu: Goodmans character works for an offshoot of Tagruato corp, which was the company that woke up the original monster by drilling. He specialized in satellites. You can see a letter from the company in one shot.
    This was all hidden in another ARG that gave you background info. Just like the first one, though, it doesn’t add a whole lot to the viewing experience.

  38. I thought this was pretty good, not great. In the end, SPOILERS

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    The aliens piece for the last 20 minutes just doesn't work for me. It ends up feeling like two very different movies: one a very intimate 70 minute horror psychodrama, the other a 20 minute fairly run-of-the-mill JJ alien B-movie monster mash that wants to suddenly hint at a much bigger universe just for the sake of doing that. That extra 20 minutes could have been spent doing more character development, dialogue, suspense, horror, payoff. The three main characters all ooze potential, but in the end none of them seem quite well-developed enough. They're not one-dimensional, but they never quite break out.

  39. Skani: SPOILERS
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    Right after she leaves the bunker there’s a brief shot of an alien spaceship and she has a comedic line, something like “You’ve gotta be kidding me!” That seemed like the natural endpoint of the film for me, but then it goes on for another fifteen minutes of CG monsters and car chases that feel completely unnecessary.

  40. Couldn’t agree more.

  41. SPOILERS AND SUCH……………….

    So you think cutting out the part where Mary Elizabeth Winstead throws a Molotov cocktail up a giant flying alien’s asshole from a car window while in midair would make the movie better?

    It’s like I don’t even know you guys anymore.

  42. SPOILER STUFF

    Majestyk – I, for one, strongly believe that the movie would not benefit from cutting that part. I love that it was a superhero origin story and at the end we got to see her in her janky outfit doing ridiculous superhero shit, then when she was done tearing up alien assholes at the farm she busted a move looking for other motherfuckers who might appreciate her doing some similar type shit in their hood. Loved it. Had a huge smile on my face throughout that whole sequence.

  43. Also SPOILERS

    I think it’s common to complain about the big finale in this one, but it absolutely worked for me. In fact, I think I enjoyed the ending more because of the tense, claustrophobic three quarters. I liked the fact that the film finally cut loose and had a big action adventure at the end.

  44. Majestyk, it’s an awesome scene in the wrong movie, imho. Van Damme drop-kicking John Goodman in the face in slow-mo also would be awesome, but not in this movie.

  45. I agree. I was skeptical about this movie because it just seemed like more J.J. hucksterism. You know, that thing he does where all the marketing pretends that the movie has some big, mind-blowing secret (“What is Cloverfield?” “What’s in the train container?” “Is this guy Khan or what?”) but then it turns out to be exactly the thing anybody who’s ever seen a movie before assumed it was going to be (“A giant monster.” “Same basic monster, but less giant.” “Of course, dumbass.”) from the get-go. It was pretty obvious to me how the entire story of was going to play out (and I was not mistaken on any counts) but each segment of the plot was developed well, including the “twist” ending, so I found the ride, as predictable as it was, entertaining. I think if it had ended like CrustaceanLove suggested then it would have been the all-sizzle-no-steak ripoff I was expecting. It would have felt like waiting to get to the end of a joke you’d already guessed the punchline to.

  46. I was agreeing with RBatty, not Skani.

  47. There could have been a reveal that, yes, Goodman’s right, and it’s aliens. That would have been as simple as her getting to the top, peering out the window, seeing a hovering alien ship, her saying “Fuck me” in disbelief (or equivalent), cut to black. A 20-minute alien fighting denouement adds nothing but an alien fighting set piece tacked onto a claustrophobic psychological horror film.

    Also, I was agree with me, not Majeystk.

  48. I think that would have been a letdown. Again, I knew there were aliens out there. That was not a big gotcha moment for me. So for them to make me go through all that to get to the aliens I knew perfectly well were out there and then not even show them doing anything or have them interact with our heroine in any way (let alone not giving her a chance to fulfill her dramatic arc, the way lighting that alien’s asshole on fire and thus realizing that she was a warrior and not a coward, as she had long suspected of herself) would have felt like driving all the way to the fireworks factory and then never leaving the parking lot.

    Different strokes, I guess. I would not have been satisfied with merely a claustrophobic thriller knowing there’s a larger world of spectacle out there just beyond the doors. Especially when I know J.J. can afford to show it.

  49. SPOILERS OF COURSE

    The film was also smart to basically suggest early on that Goodman’s talk of aliens and stuff are true. By the time that woman attempts to enter the bunker, you know that weird shit is going on outside. The movie doesn’t wait until the very end for us to realize this is probably the case. For me, it’s because the film clues us into the very real possibility of aliens early on that I didn’t find the ending all that jarring.

  50. SPOILERS I GUESS?
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    My issue with the alien stuff was that the aliens were not nearly as threatening or scary as John Goodman. I also didn’t think the alien stuff at the end was all that exciting or well executed. I definitely see where Majestyk is coming from and normally I’d be in his corner, but the (in my opinion) per functionary execution of the alien finale killed the momentum the movie was so damn good at building up. Not saying she should have escaped and then happy ending, I think we can all agree Goodman being right was a far better route to take. I guess I like the original script’s ending of she sees the destroy city and that’s the end. I can’t believe I’m a monster nerd and I’m advocating for a movie to have less monsters.

  51. We know she’s tough, a survivor just in taking on John Goodman and escaping. Why do we need to see her go directly from that to see her single-handedly taking on and escaping an alien ship? Why do I need her to be Alien 1 Ripley and Aliens Ripley in one film? It just seems like gratuitous JJ-ism. I’m sure there is a larger world of spectacle in the John Carpenter’s the Thing expanded universe where there are alien planets where the Things live and motherships and Thing Ewoks, and who knows what else. Whatever that expanded world is, I don’t want or need to see it in this film.

    Also, do we know for sure for sure that it’s aliens prior to her escaping? We know there’s that crazy lady with the decroded, infected face. Maybe I forgot, but it seemed like by the end it was still possible for there to be a twisty ending where it’s not aliens after all. Especially with Goodman clearly not acting as an entirely reliable informant about what’s what. I was still prepared for there to be some kind of twisty something at the end. No, instead it’s, “Yep, aliens.”

    I didn’t hate the film. I give it a passing mark for the first 70 minutes. And, yes, molotov cocktail in the orifice is an objectively badass scene, but completely unearned and pretty much out of nowhere. It would have been a thrill climax to a film about aliens. Instead, it’s a pretty badass climax to a 15-20 minute inexplicable short film about aliens appended to a horror film about Mary E.W. and John Goodman.

  52. Apparently Bad Robot are now fully comitting to turning CLOVERFIELD into an anthology movie franchise. I approve of this. I don’t think it has ever been done before* and I love anthologies. And who knows? Maybe it helps to get some mid-budget spec scripts get made, that would normally never see the light of the movie screen, because they don’t follow the trend of whatever Hollywood is making right now?

    *Did Shyamalan’s DEVIL really so bad at the box office, that it instantly killed THE NIGHT CHRONICLES or whatever it was named?

  53. CJ – The only other Anthology movie series I can think of is Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight and Bordello of Blood. I THINK two movies is enough for a franchise. (This doesn’t include actual “Anthology Movies” of course like Creepshows 1 + 2 and the V/H/S’s.)

    *MAJOR SPOILER-Y QUESTION*: So now that they’ve announced Cloverfield 3 and tell you right up front it’s about aliens, I wonder how does this affect the legacy/enjoyment/reputation of 10 Cloverfield Lane? I mean, it’s still a newish movie, under 1 year old, and now by announcing an alien-centric sequel they’ve basically answered the big mystery this entire movie depends on. (And no, I didn’t think it was particularly obvious this one would have aliens, in fact I figured it’d be pretty JJ-like to NOT have aliens in it, not to mention the mid-movie reveal tries to make you think it’s zombies or something else going on above ground). I figure most audiences watching this movie now or years from now will be bored out of their mind wondering “where’s the aliens?” It’s a weird and unfair position to put this movie in, especially since the bunker stuff is pretty strong.

    *ALSO SPOILER-Y*: It’s interesting that this movie has a pretty positive reputation when most people seemingly liked it DESPITE the ending. Multiple people I know basically thought “well the first 90 minutes are pretty good so i can forgive the end when it got silly) which isn’t an invalid opinion (that’s basically how I felt too) but it’s just weird since shouldn’t endings be the best part of a movie? I mean, can anyone who actually DID like the ending say with a straight face that a poorly lit-and-staged War of the Worlds retread was better than the John Goodman stuff?

    And am I the only one who thought “Why couldn’t the alien just be the creature from Cloverfield?” I mean, there even a little alien chasing her just like one of the Cloverfield monster’s parasites, and you could have even had the exact same ending with the molotov cocktail with the Cloverfield monster instead of the big alien. It’s so weird to have a “spritual sequel” to a monster movie, tease out whether there are monsters or not the entire time, and then the big reveal is “a ha! There were monsters but they’re different than the ones in the other movie in this same franchise except they’re totally identical in form and function!”

  54. Oh wait, does “National Lampoon’s….” count as an Anthology franchise? I guess if you could link unrelated sci-fi horror movies via a random street name in the title, you could argue there’s enough to make National Lampoon movies an Anthology. (Or “Monty Python’s….” or “Broken Lizard Presents…..”)

  55. Yeah, too bad that the TFTC movie series died such a quick death. Intersting question about the NATIONAL LAMPOON thing. Never thought of that, but I guess since most NL movies are just random fratboy comedies of questionable comedy that wear that prestigious label because someone owns the name rights, I would say: No. Same goes for movies made by comedy troupes.

  56. Ok, so late to the game on this one. Just saw it last night, and I really dug it. It flew by, which is what you really want from an intimate chamber piece in a claustrophobic setting, keep things interesting and moving along. I just have 2 issues/ideas I need to get off my chest and out there in the world. For this I need that
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    1) I understand that the reveal of the alien ship after all that, and Winstead (whom, yes, I’ve also had a crush on since Final Destination 3 and almost broke journalistic protocol to hit on her but realized that would be bad…I digress. When Winstead realizes the aliens are real and says “Come On” would be a good end point, but then I feel like the movie would use be like one of those annoying Britt Marling sci-fi indies that have 80 minutes of build up to one student film “twist” ending. I’m glad they showed the aliens, even if they were unnecessary and silly.

    2) As I was watching the flick, I was convinced that it would be one of those twisty kind of movies where it was revealed that Emmet was the one we needed to worry about all along. That Howard was a little socially awkward doomsday prepper who lost his daughter and felt this need to be overprotective of Michelle, and that it was Emmet who killed Megan and had her trapped down in the hole, because he knew it so well having helped build it. Then Emmet was trying to feed Michelle false information about who the girl in the picture was. Meaning that everything Howard says should be taken at face value and the real threat in the bunker was him.

    Ultimately, I loved Emmet’s fate and how it was handled, but I couldn’t help feeling disappointed that Howard was probably going to kill Michelle in the bunker. I like the idea that he was strange, but true.

    Anyway, had to share that, and this seemed like the right place to do so.

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