What started as a tiny horror movie titled Valencia, which was ignored because of producer J.J. Abrams’s other science-fiction thing, (some random production called Star Wars: The Force Awakens), 10 Cloverfield Lane releases tomorrow — when barely three months ago, the world first learned about it.
You might be confused. Is 10 Cloverfield Lane a sequel to the 2008 monster movie Cloverfield? What is the movie actually about? Is it filmed in handheld again? What’s John Goodman doing in this thing? Why is he twerking?
If you’re still not sure what to make of the movie directed by former podcaster Dan Trachtenberg, here are all the nitty-gritty details you should know before you buy a ticket.
Okay, so, what’s the plot?
Waking up from an accident, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) finds herself in an underground bunker, assembled by the mysterious Howard Stambler (John Goodman), an ex-government contractor-turned-doomsday prepper. He promptly tells her the world was ravaged by a chemical attack that left the surface uninhabitable, and Michelle copes with her new surroundings. She bonds with another co-habitant, Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.) rightfully distrusts Stambler, and seeks a way out.
Is it a sequel?
No, but it’s set within the Cloverfield universe. Speaking to the LA Times, the Star Wars director who produced 10 Cloverfield Lane confirmed the movie shouldn’t be considered “Cloverfield 2”, but is a part of a larger tapestry.
“I think the easiest way to consider this is that it is something of an anthology,” Abrams told the LA Times. “But it’s also something else that we’re playing with. Fingers crossed that we get to execute [it].”
Since Marvel turned “cinematic universe” into a marketing buzzword, remarkably few studios have pulled off the concept. Universal tried and failed to make an integrated world for the classic movie monsters, and now 21 Jump Street is becoming a part of the Men in Black universe. But Cloverfield is less obnoxious about it. I haven’t seen the film, but aside from the title and a scary force happening outside, there’s little to connect 10 Cloverfield Lane back to the 2008 monster movie in which Rob and his yuppie friends got chomped to death.
You’d have to dig to find any connections. As Reddit uncovered, John Goodman’s character, Howard Stambler was a high-ranking employee of the corporation that produced the soft drink Slusho!, whose toxic waste bred the original film’s monster.
Is there a monster in ‘10 Cloverfield Lane’?
No, and that isn’t a spoiler — except to those who were expecting it as a surprise in the first place. Surprise! What you were expecting is true! Or isn’t, I guess?
There is a terror, as noted in the review by Variety, but that’s all plot. Thematically — and, perhaps, what the film’s poster is trying to tell us — the monsters take all forms. 10 Cloverfield Lane is about trust and paranoia, about three people stuck together with nowhere to go, unless one of them is lying. But why? Those are the real questions you should be asking.
Who directed it?
Dan Trachtenberg, a podcaster who directed a Portal fanfilm and now one of the hottest young sci-fi visionaries on the market. (Full disclosure: Trachtenberg was one of the hosts of Geekdrome, which later became Geekscape, another publication I write for.)
Where is 10 Cloverfield Lane?
Good question! I theorized it was in New York, while my colleague Megan Logan took it a step further, claiming 10 Cloverfield Lane is kind of an improbable address. But I think it’s in New York.
Which of your theories are correct?
Without seeing the film: A decent amount! In my initial hypothesis I guessed Howard Stambler was a former high-ranking employee of some sorts who learned too much and went on the run. And I was right!
What we still don’t know is 1) Why was there a nuclear/chemical attack? 2) What kind of world did the monster leave in its wake? 3) Why there are so many Eiffel Tower pictures everywhere.
Are we going to find out what happened to Rob?