“10 Cloverfield Lane” leaves viewers questioning everything



Howard (John Goodman) and Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) share a tense moment.

After almost 8 years of anticipation, a sequel to Cloverfield was released on Friday, March 11th. Well, sort of. While 10 Cloverfield Lane is set in the same ‘world’ as its predecessor and features the same topic, it isn’t the sequel many fans were hoping for. The plot focuses on completely separate characters along with a completely separate story and time frame. Similarly to the first film in the series, it deals with the aspect of the unknown; the viewers are kept just as clueless as the characters in the movie.

The marketing to this mysterious film was just as much of a secrecy. Trailers weren’t released until about two months to the movie release. Along with this, an ARG was rumored to be out, since the first Cloverfield had one as well. An ARG, or alternate reality game, is like an interactive networked narrative where people can interact with the characters in the movie, but it uses real life as the platform. The interactive story evolves as people figure out more about it, because it was made by individuals working on the movie.

For 10 Cloverfield Lane, the ARG revolved around a website called funandprettythings.com. The website was allegedly made by one of the main characters’ daughter, and as time went on the ARG players gathered information from the site that gave clues about the movie. Fans also found a location in Louisiana from the website, which a dedicated person from reddit.com went to. At this spot, a box was found containing survival gear, a note, some USB drives, and puzzle pieces, which were missing from a puzzle in the trailer to the movie. The ARG gained a lot of hype for the movie, although it still kept everyone mostly in the dark in terms of the plot.

The movie was finally released, and soon gained tons of positive reviews. It absolutely deserved them all. 10 Cloverfield Lane was enthralling, thrilling, suspenseful, and open to interpretation. The plot kept me questioning everything the entire time, but in a good way.

The film started off by showing the protagonist, Michelle, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, leaving her house frazzled. She drives away, but is suddenly jerked off the road as her car rolls down a hill. She then wakes up, chained to a wall in a mysterious and cynical-looking room. As the story develops, Michelle finds out that a man named Howard, played by John Goodman, saw her car crash. He then took her into his underground bunker, because he had a feeling that there had been attacks on earth and the outside air was toxic. After almost escaping, Michelle sees a woman with burnt skin die outside of the bunker. She decides to believe Howard’s theories, at least until she has to fix the air filtration system. After climbing through the vents, she sees something in the air filtration room that leads her to believe that Howard may have kidnapped a girl and killed her. After this discovery, she begins to bond with Emmet. Emmet, played by John Gallagher Jr. had fought his way into the bunker when the first alleged “attacks” hit earth, before Howard closed the doors. Together, Emmet and Michelle plot to create a suit to protect themselves from any harmful things outside and to ultimately escape the bunker. Their plan fails, though, when Howard finds out what they’re up to. At the end of the movie, we see how the movie ties into the Cloverfield series: aliens. The extraterrestrial beings began their invasion on Earth by creating explosions to destroy the human race in heavily populated areas.

Although the movie does rely heavily on sci-fi details because of its tie to aliens, the main focus leans more towards the monsters found in humanity. The movie’s open ended story allows viewers to construct many theories. Was Howard really the ‘bad guy’ here? Was Emmet possibly the dangerous one the whole time? Had Howard been stalking Michelle previously? Would Howard have killed Michelle, or did he just want a friend? Although it’s a bit infuriating to not know the true answers to these questions, it ends up making the movie more fascinating. The movie stuck in my head for days as I tried to figure out what was actually going on in the character’s heads and what their ulterior motives were.

J.J. Abrams has already talked about a possible sequel, but it would be more of an anthology in the series instead of focusing on the same characters its two predecessors.

Overall, everything about this movie was great in all honesty. John Goodman plays his role of Howard perfectly, making viewers feel uncomfortable, but also a bit sorry for him. He pauses just long enough before he responds to Michelle or Emmet, giving him this uncannily strange and disturbing vibe. The soundtrack of the movie also did a great job of tying everything together, as the tunes from the 50s and 60s provided a perfect background to tense scenes and foreshadowed upcoming events.

10 Cloverfield Lane provided a fresh plot and was unlike any other film that has recently been in theaters. It’s a great film to analyze, watch again, and overanalyze. I urge anyone who loves captivating movies and the brilliance of John Goodman to see this movie.