Editors' Choice

10 Cloverfield Lane Was 2016’s Diamond In The Rough

Steve Porter / February 20, 2017

Cloverfield (2007) changed its title multiple times during production to try and throw people off because director J.J. Abrams wanted to keep things as hush hush as possible. The film’s title started as Cloverfield, then changed to Slusho, then it became Cheese, and then it was named Greyshot, and finally they came full circle and gave back its original title.



Almost 10 years later and we have 10 Cloverfield Lane. Abrams and his production company produced this “low budget” (by hollywood standards and scope of the film) for Paramount’s low-budget label Insurge Pictures. And as with the previous film, this one was made under a  codename. They chose “Valencia” and initially it started out as a different film. The script bared a wholly original title, The Cellar. It wasn’t even intended to have anything to do with the Cloverfield universe, but thanks to some clever rewrites, that all changed.



One of the first things someone would notice is that the shaky handheld camera and found footage style of filming was tossed out the window in favor of beautifully composed shots thanks to the cinematography of Jeff Cutter. We’ll note that we recognise that the kind of story being told will dictate the medium or style that’s used, and we believe the methods used for the two films match up well with the stories they told.



10 Cloverfield Lane is a PG-13 mystery horror-ama with some thriller elements tossed in. The film was directed by Dan Trachtenberg and written by Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken & Damien Chazelle. It clocks in at a cozy 1 hour and 44 minutes and the film currently has a very respectable 7.3 out of 10 from the votes of more than 170,000 members on IMDB. Side note: Chazelle was scheduled to originally be the director, but his film Whiplash was given the green light and he decided to shift his focus to that, and well, his decision paid off well. Whiplash went on to receive 3 Oscars, 87 other awards, and 131 nominations.



The film’s music was done by Bear McCreary, the editing by Stefan Grube, production design by Ramsey Avery and set decoration was done by Michelle Marchand. All of it added to the film culminating in what I can only describe as a truly enjoyable experience.  



The cast boasts of some serious talent with Mary Elizabeth Winstead playing Michelle; a tough as nails and quick thinking young lady who finds herself being held captive by Howard Stambler (played by John Goodman) and his unwilling accomplice Emmett DeWitt (played by John Gallagher Jr.) Bradley Cooper has a brief role as the voice of Michelle’s boyfriend Ben, and there was a brief appearance by Suzanne Cryer as a survivor named Leslie.  



At first glance, the plot is relatively simple. Michelle breaks up with her boyfriend and while hightailing it out of town, she’s involved in a car accident. When she wakes up, she realizes that she’s trapped in a bunker with Howard and Emmett. Howard informs her that the end of the world has begun and he can’t let her leave. Emmett corroborates Howard’s story. Michelle is trapt, yet safe. Or is she? Slowly the mystery that is Howard and his cozy doomsday bunker begins to unravel and Michelle decides that she would rather deal with whatever is outside instead of staying locked up underground with a lunatic.



This is really a great psychological thriller at it’s core. Who’s good, who’s bad, and is the end of the world happening or not? Other than the narrative connections, the film plays out nothing like it’s predecessor and to me clearly stands out as the better film.