’10 Cloverfield Land’: The Sequel that Didn’t Need to be a Sequel

This is not a sequel to Cloverfield. You have been lied to.

Granted, it’s a pretty good movie, but marketing this thing as a sequel to Cloverfield is, at best, stretching the truth and, at worst, a brazen act of dishonesty.

Set in Louisiana, 10 Not-Cloverfield Lane, follows Mary Elizabeth Winstead as she flees from her husband late one night, gets into a car accident, and then wakes up in an underground bunker with John Goodman who tells her that she can’t leave because the air outside is poisonous and everyone above ground is dead. Is he for real-real or for play-play? Is he a savior or is he just a crazy man? Will be save her and the other dude in the bunker, or will be end up just wearing their skin?

All right, so the movie is good. It’s a tight and adept thriller where you’ve never quite sure of John Goodman’s character’s actions. As a result, ignoring the question of is there or is there not something going on upstairs, it keeps the characters and the audience unbalanced. At certain points, you honestly believe that he’s John Goodman. Other times, you’re sure he’s John Badman. Then, you’re back to believing in Goodman again.

I can’t continue without applauding John Goodman in this role. This is a true breakout for him and he owned the role of Howard, making him sweet and dangerous and prepared and unbalanced all at once. When you first see him on screen, you’re all like, “Dan, what are you doing so far away from Lanford?” but then that old beloved sweet big guy melts away and you’ve got Howard. Howard. I both loved and hated this guy and I mean that in the best possible way.

Here’s the deal, folks… I’m in a pickle over this one. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a pretty good movie, but I have an issue with it and I’m not sure if its the film’s fault and I’m not sure if I’m being unfair to the film to point it out, but it’s making me dislike this otherwise good if flawed movie.

As I said, it’s not a sequel to Cloverfield. I know we’ve all heard that “spiritual successor” nonsense, but 10 Cloverfield Lane has next to nothing to do with the movie it claims to be a successor to. This is a siege/crazy man movie and, when it’s a siege/crazy man movie, it works rather well and would have worked all the way through if not for one teensy rage-educing detail… from the title alone, we know that there are monsters.

Never once was that in doubt. When Winstead’s character finally gets out of the shelter and sees the aliens (who are not Cloverfield monsters, by the way) there is no shock. No surprise. Just an attitude of, “Oh, there they are finally.”

This movie didn’t need to be a “successor” to Cloverfield. It didn’t need to have the stigma and expectations tacked onto it. By itself, this movie is like a really intense episode of The Twilight Zone. Not game-changing or overtly wonderful, but really good none the less. By slapping a Cloverfield title onto it, you change expectations and you guarantee the “twist” ending isn’t twist anymore. It would be like calling The Sixth Sense, Ghost II or setting a really silly and fun action movie on a cruise ship and calling it Speed 2 (Oh, that happened).

You may think of it as bad marketing, but I prefer to call it what it is… a lie. We got lied to so that butts would fill seats and, as a result, a pretty good movie was spoiled because of it. I know I should probably get over it, but I can’t. I hate being lied. It makes me angry and it makes me feel disrespected.

This is a classic example of a movie shooting itself in the foot. You almost have to slap yourself in the forehead in disbelief.

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