Ultimate Suspense With 10 Cloverfield Lane

Take A Nerve-Wrecking Trip Down 10 Cloverfield Lane – uncover dark secrets and unravel foreboding fear!

Review By Daniel Dercksen

If there’s one film that will definitely be the most talked about film in years, it’s 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Telling the story of three people trapped in an underground bunker, this daring and no-nonsense psychological thriller will rip your nerves to pieces and truly blow your mind.

John Goodman as Howard; Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle; and John Gallagher Jr. as Emmett in 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE; by Paramount

John Goodman as Howard; Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle; and John Gallagher Jr. as Emmett in 10 Cloverfield; by Paramount Pictures

After a shocking opening sequence that will knock you out of your seat, you are plunged into a realm where everything is dubious, and a dark cloud of mystery keeps you in suspense until all is revealed in the awesome finale.

Nothing is more exciting than uncovering dark secrets and unraveling foreboding fear.

10 Cloverfield Lane offers an ultimate emotional and physical exploration of the unknown and  is a journey that leads to surprising twists and turns around every corner.

A major factor that keeps you on the edge of your seat is stepping into the shoes of a young woman who finds herself in an underground bunker, and gradually uncovering the truth as the film progresses, and when all is revealed, the mystery remains.

It’s an intimate experience with terrific performances by John Goodman as the unnerving tyrant who rules his kingdom in the bunker, with John Gallagher Jr and Elizabeth Winstead as two strangers whose lives intertwine and are radically altered.

There are moments that you really feel at home in the bunker, without a care in the world, and times when you feel trapped and will do anything to escape its claustrophobic embrace.

Under Dan Trachtenberg’s imaginative direction, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a cinematic experience that absolutely delivers what it promises.  Trachtenberg allows us get lost in moments of nothingness, where everything comes to a halt and the outside world ceases to exist, and then, as if waking from a nightmare, we suddenly realise that this trip down the rabbit hole is not as cosy as it seems.

It’s a must-see thrill you will definitely want to experience again and one you should not know anything about before seeing it.

Don’t know anything until you do, really don’t, you will cheat yourself out of a great experience.  And even when you do, don’t spoil it for anyone else.

10 Cloverfield LAne

The Truth Behind 10 Cloverfield Lane

Everything about 10 Cloverfield Lane has been a complete surprise since it was announced:  its out-of-left-field announcement, its tightly-held plot secrets, and the fact that it’s the first time audiences have been able to see what director Dan Trachtenberg can do with a feature film.

The film forms part of what producer JJ Abrams refers to as ‘’sort of part of a Cloverfield anthology and part a larger idea’’, turning what is is now being called “the Cloververse” into a Twilight Zone-esque way of telling original stories.

Cloverfield was released in January of 2008 to similar mystery and buzz. (So much mystery that, for the longest time, people thought it was a movie about five robotic lions that combine to form the robot Voltron.) What we ended up getting was a movie about a group of people trying to escape the wrath of a monster or alien (it was never 100 percent explained) that was ravaging New York City.

Now, eight years later, here comes 10 Cloverfield Lane, a (as it’s being called) “spiritual sequel” that doesn’t have much to do with the original other than tone and secrecy. All anybody who hasn’t seen it yet knows is that three people are living in an underground bunker and something crazy will probably happen. about three people trapped in an underground bunker (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, and John Gallagher Jr.)

It is not a literal Cloverfield 2, but there is some connection. It is the second film in the Cloverfield franchise and was developed from an “ultra low budget” spec script penned by John Campbell and Matt Stuecken, titled The Cellar, but under production by Bad Robot Productions, it was turned into a spiritual successor of the 2008 film Cloverfield, written by Josh Campbell, Matthew Stucken and Damien Chazelle.

Says Abrams: ‘’There are a number of connections, some obvious, some not. Things that I want people to sort of find on their own. Some are thematic, some are genre. But what defines a Cloverfield movie is part of a kind of bigger idea we had. This is sort of part anthology and part a larger idea. And the fun of having a movie that is connected to Cloverfield, but not a literal Cloverfield 2, which is of course what we would have called it had it been a literal sequel. It would have been a more obviously titled sequel. This is something that hopefully if we get a shot to continue this idea that we have, we can have a lot of fun with and come clearer what constitutes a Cloverfield movie.’’

Producer Lindsey Weber (who produced 10 Cloverfield Lane) introduced Trachtenberg to producer  JJ Abrams when he was searching for a director.

‘’What I was mostly impressed by was the clarity and strength of his vision for how he would do this movie,’’ says Abrams. ‘’He had a confidence that I think is apparent in the film. A strong sense of tension and focus and he did this really beautiful work with the actors, with the camera, with modulation. I think that the tension of the movie, it’s not just creepy and scary, but there’s a great sense of tension to the movie that I think is really all about what Dan brought to it. So I would credit Lindsey for finding him and credit Dan for what the movie is.’’

I think that because the premise of this movie is so strong, meaning it is so singular in point of view, I feel like one of the many cool things that Dan did was allowed the audience to vicariously experience moment to moment what Michelle is going through. And part because Mary Elizabeth Winstead is so good. And that is there’s no strategy behind that other than I think Dan telling a story very well.’’

The spirit of it, the genre of it, the heart of it, the fear factor, the comedy factor, the weirdness factor, there were so many elements that felt like the DNA of this story were of the same place that Cloverfield was born out of,” said Abrams

Trachtenberg has made impressions before, appearing as one of the hosts of The Totally Rad Show and directing commercials for the likes of Nike and Lexus, before really getting attention in 2011 with Portal: No Escape, a short film set in the world of the popular video game series. But after developing several projects, 10 Cloverfield Lane  that would prove the 34-year-old director was a polished and studied new voice in genre filmmaking.

(L-R) Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Dan Trachtenberg (director) and John Goodman on the set of 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE, by Paramount Pictures

(L-R) Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Dan Trachtenberg (director) and John Goodman on the set of 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE, by Paramount Pictures

At a press conference, Trachtenberg spoke about how they kept things so secret, the film’s big Steven Spielberg influences, and the larger plans for a potential expanded universe of Cloverfield films.

The one question that everyone else in the world — keeps asking is, how did you keep this thing secret?

It’s a really easy answer: we just didn’t talk about it. That really is the truth. And for someone like me who loves movies, and loves talking about movies — here I was, making my first movie! — it was absolutely excruciating to not be able to talk about it with my friends. But at the same time, I think it’s going to be so much more rewarding for them and for everyone to see the movie and be surprised by it. And the movie is really filled with surprises. It was all carefully designed, and I’m excited that now people get to really see it as it was intended.

J.J. Abrams has said that this movie is a “blood relative” of the original Cloverfield. What does that actually mean?

Really, I think it’s taken on this meaning of being this signal to the audience that the movie is of a certain tone and certain genre, and really, that it’s a movie that is a play on genre. That first Cloverfield was a very unique take on a very familiar genre, and this movie is a different, but still unique, take on a familiar genre, and I think now the Cloverfield “thing” can really be this platform to tell really interesting and fun and original stories.

So thinking of Cloverfield almost like an umbrella brand, under which Bad Robot can reinvent certain kinds of genres?

I think so, yeah. It sort of plays on genre and things that are really scary, but still fun, and funny, and always character-oriented. And it’s in some ways part anthology, part something a little bit bigger, but only time will tell.

So much of this film seems to be about how expectations shape the way we perceive things around us — both for the characters and the audience. Michelle thinks Howard is crazy, then she finds out that things really are bad outside, and that changes everything. Then you flip things around again. With the surprise trailer and Cloverfield title, that same kind of expectation and subversion is happening with the marketing campaign, too. Was it all designed as part of a cohesive whole?

There’s been this really cool, conscious choice through all the marketing: there’s been no traditional trailer for the movie. All that we’ve been doling out are these really interesting teaser pieces. And I think not only does that preserve the surprises of the movie, but it also really celebrates anticipation, and I think it’s cool to see the marketing pieces evolve. At one point we only saw Mary see something outside that was scary, and then later we got a glimpse of what that thing might have been, and next we’re sort of hearing her describe a part of what she might be seeing outside. They’re all constantly evolving and shifting our expectations, just the way that the movie constantly shifts expectations.

The opening — a woman waking up alone in a concrete room — mirrors your short Portal: No Escape. Was that an intentional callback, and was that short part of how you got involved on this film?

They definitely saw that short, but since then I’d been developing other movies elsewhere, and been in and out of Bad Robot pitching them my own ideas, and talking about some other scripts that they had. Then when this one showed up, they thankfully thought of me for it, and I pitched them my take and they dug it. But I think that beyond the literal concept of “woman wakes up, doesn’t know who she is or how she got there” — which happens in both instances — I think there’s also this through-line in my Portal short and in this movie.

This movie is all told through [Michelle’s] POV. We never really see a scene that’s outside of her perspective, we only know what she knows, and it’s a unique experience in that the audience gets to put the pieces of the puzzle together at the same time the main character’s putting the pieces together, which really more firmly plants you in their shoes and makes the movie that much more experiential. And I think that’s a special kind of rewarding experience for an audience, one that that short showcased and one that this movie works on as well.

This film also feels like a throwback to some of the movies Steven Spielberg’s company Amblin produced back in the ‘80s. Some of J.J.’s films, like Super 8, definitely have that vibe, to the point where it almost seems like we’re in the middle of an Amblin renaissance. Were those movies an influence on you growing up?

I’m an Amblin kid through and through, and though this doesn’t quite qualify as an Amblin movie, Jaws is one of my favourite movies of all time. What I love about it, is that it’s all things. When it’s funny, it’s hilarious. When it’s scary, it’s terrifying. When there’s drama, it’s the most sincere stuff on screen. And when there’s adventure, it’s swashbuckle-y. And that’s something that Spielberg did so well — the family drama in Poltergeist and in Jaws, it was always so authentic. In Close Encounters, he had actors really speaking over each other and made those familial sequences so realistic in a way that movies didn’t always feel like then and certainly still don’t today. Combining that realism with the extraordinary was always so profound and awesome, and certainly something I wanted to maintain with this movie was having it feel authentic, and also super suspenseful and certainly extraordinary.

You can feel that, particularly in that extended dinner scene with Howard, Michelle, and Emmett. It feels like one of those Spielberg family scenes, undercut with a supremely messed up dynamic.

That is one of my favourite scenes in the movie, and even though it didn’t totally make its way in, we looked a lot at the dinner scene in Jaws, when they’re sharing a bottle of wine and it’s all told largely in one take. Which our scene certainly isn’t, but we looked at that, and some stuff in Empire of the Sun as well.

You mentioned Cloverfield being a larger platform, but the way this movie ends it could be The Terminator, with Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character heading off to fight whatever is out there. Is there a sequel idea in the back of your mind, or is this particular story more of a one-off?

I think both of those things are cool. I certainly geek out over what the next kind of movie she could be in would be like. But I also think it’s more bad-ass if that is all that you got, that is all that you saw, and there is something that feels complete about her story. Especially in an age where we have so many sequels and reboots, it’s kind of cool that it’s like “Nope, that’s just it.” But at the same time it would be super rad to make more. I think yes, like Ripley [from Alien] and Sarah Connor, Mary’s character could go on to do some really cool things.

You were on this movie before it was a Cloverfield movie. How did you find out this was happening?

Yeah, it was a spec [script] Bad Robot had acquired. Then Damien Chazelle came in to rewrite it to make it much more like the movie you see today. So, even when I got to it, it was something that already fit into the Cloververse.

So, at what moment was it changed to 10 Cloverfield Lane? Were you called into a meeting?

We were spitballing titles throughout the entire course of production and J.J. had an epiphany one day. Because we were trying to find a way for it all to be incorporated smoothly and for it to sound really cool on its own. And when he mentioned 10 Cloverfield Lane, it was so smart because not only does it incorporate the name in the title, it invokes Twilight Zone.

So, what’s that like? I could see that being exciting from a marketing standpoint, but also could see it being shocking to have this original thing you were working on morphed into an existing franchise?

I certainly felt all of the emotions you described. On the one hand, not thinking about what the expectations are is helpful – and there not being any expectations, or overselling and under delivering is an exciting thought, but there’s downfall to that, as well. And then having expectations that have to be met are also equally daunting. I was constantly having to work on the movie up until the bitter end, so there was never a point I was done with the movie and thinking about the marketing. The marketing team at Paramount has been doing an awesome job, but even while that’s been happening, I’ve still been working on the movie. And as you can imagine, that was my primary focus and a really stressful one. I knew that mattered more.

I know we can’t say anything about that third act…

Awesome. Awesome. I’m excited for people to be with the characters in such a pressure cooker, and having it erupt so fiercely is one of the more exciting parts of the movie for me.

In the first act, John Goodman’s Howard is trying to convince Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Michelle that there’s been some sort of large-scale attack. That seems like a thin line to toe between tipping the audience if he’s telling the truth or not.

It is exactly as you say. There was a balance that we were always placing on the teeter totter; we were always placing more plates on one side, then take them off and put more plates on the other side and we finally struck the right chord. That’s why I was so stoked to get John Goodman, because I thought he could be kooky and weird and crazy, but also very convincing. That speech he gives about “building an ark after the flood’s already come,” that wasn’t in the original script and I wanted it to be there because I wanted to empathize with his point of view and think for a second, “Well, maybe he is right?”

You don’t wait the whole movie to give the audience the answer.

Right. But, on the one hand, there are so many threats in the movie, that even when you establish that, there’s a new one there. But, even still, I found people questioning the veracity of what Michelle is told and hears until the very end. Well, not the very end, but very close to the end. For some reason, we are always wondering, “it could be this or that.” People really are pursuing the truth constantly that things are even taken at face value even where there is a face with a lot of value telling you something.