So Maestro J.J. Abrams decided to take his Mystery Box cock and once again fuck our minds by releasing a trailer for the movie 10 Cloverfield Lane, a movie with very minimal promotion that nobody really knew about. The production team were quick to outline that it is more of a ‘spiritual sequel’ to 2008's Cloverfield. Inasmuch as it has absolutely nothing to do with the found footage monster movie, and was in fact a completely separate project that was labelled with the ‘Cloverfield’ branding in order to gain public attention once Bad Robot got interested.
And, I’m gonna be blunt here…that’s pretty clever. It’s a cynical marketing strategy, but frankly nobody would have seen the damn film otherwise, and if this is a way to get original science fiction concepts even remote public attention, then let the Cloverfields go abound I say! It’s a shame that it needs the branding to sell something remotely original, but perhaps we’re to blame here.
So you’re probably wondering why I spent nearly 200 words talking about how this film was marketed and not about the movie itself? Well, and I know I’m in the minority here, but it’s the most interesting thing about it.
Essentially, 10 Cloerfield Land is two parts locked down mystery thriller and one part science fiction dystopian drama. While I can definitely see a story like this working, I don’t feel the elements were balanced well enough to fully work as an overall piece. The thriller elements are a bit too easy to figure out, and the sci-fi stuff is relegated mostly to the last 10-15 minutes, and it feels rather underwhelming as a result. It honestly would have worked better if they had just emphasised the thriller aspects and downplayed the alien stuff, but they tried to do both right at the end and neither feels very satisfying.
Also the cast are not that engaging. Not the actors-John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead give solid performances as expected. It’s just that Goodman’s character is too undercooked because of how the plot deals with him, and Winstead feels like character parts that don’t really make up the whole. There are certainly a lot of subtleties to her and clever reincorporation, but I never felt I got to know her fully as a person. The most fully realised character is John Gallagher Jr.’s, though the pathos he's imbued with feels a tad contrived.
There is certainly a lot to like about 10 Cloverfield Lane. It’s got a lot of nice subtle moments and some excellent sound design, the limited spacing never feels drab or repetitive (except maybe at the start), and the performances are definitely enough to carry it. I just don’t know if it works that well as a thriller as everything is left too up into the air and it's is too fast to move onto a new thing to focus on to get truly invested in what’s going on. I'd certainly recommend checking it out and judging for yourself, but this is one well-praised outing that won’t be getting too much of my praise. No matter how clever the marketing was.