10 Cloverfield Lane — Cloverfield Sequel?

Poster for 10 Cloverfield Lane
Poster for 10 Cloverfield Lane
10 Cloverfield Lane just burst upon the fandom world (well casual fandom anyway, I’m sure there were people who have been following it for quite a bit longer). There are a number of rumors swirling around the movie, the first I saw being that it might be a sequel to Cloverfield.

There is some correlation that supports this. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a very secretive project, just like Cloverfield was. J.J. Abrams produced Cloverfield and is the producer for 10 Cloverfield Lane. But as we all know, correlation is not causation. Or, just because there are similarities does not mean they are of necessity, linked. Although they probably are.

I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing because, in all honesty, Cloverfield is one of the worst Monster Movies I’ve ever watched. Briefly, Cloverfield was so caught up in being secretive and clever that it never was a Monster Movie. I get that it was trying to show what an average (nasty) person might actually experience in that circumstance but did they have to make it so boring?

I know there are fans and if they like it than more power to them. I just found it awful.

I’ll include the trailer here for you, but I don’t have high hopes.

I’ll also, include a slightly updated review of Cloverfield that first appeared on The Geek Girl Project. Just for your reading pleasure.

For the record, I like monster movies. They don’t even have to be particularly good monster movies, just give me some mumbo-jumbo pseudo-scientific whats and whyfors, some good shots of the monster and a lot of mayhem and I’m generally a happy moviegoer. I don’t much care for horror but I understand that to really make the monster terrible some horror has to be included. Don’t waste time with too much romance, although a misunderstood scientist is an excellent character to throw in for my ten bucks.

Character development isn’t necessarily a priority but don’t totally overlook it, because if the characters aren’t sympathetic on some level then why care about them, and if we don’t care about them–Why are we bothering with this movie? Oh yes, the monster. Right. I’m ok with that.

Which brings us to Cloverfield’ a movie so caught up in its own cleverness that it fails on all three levels. Apparently the bouncy, annoying and headache inducing ‘camera style’ is supposed to carry the film past the fact that:

1. We never really get to learn anything about the monster. Shoot we only get to see it once and that’s not even all that great a shot, all blurry and out of focus. We wanted a monster movie, not spoilt rich kids run around New York.

2. There is only one character in the entirety of the movie that is even remotely sympathetic and that’s the army guy who is only on screen for a grand total of two minutes–tops.

And 3. There isn’t even enough suspense to make it a horror movie. I was never on the edge of my seat. I was frequently bored.

That’s because of bonus point 4. The characters are a group of extremely unlikable, entitled people who have no redeeming qualities. They are the people that we pray grow up before they start couch surfing with all of our friends and eventually come knocking on our own door forcing us to think up some excuse to keep the sexist, narcissistic, losers out of our home without having to get an attorney to evict them. They are the guys who abuse women, then call them crazy when they say anything about it and the women who are co-dependent upon them. But, to be fair, they are young and there is always the possibility that they will learn and grow as human beings. But this is Cloverfield so that never happens.

Below there be spoilers. You have been warned.

For any movie to work you have to have sympathetic characters, the audience has to care what happens to the characters. Yes I know there are some people who say it doesn’t matter, that the story is what matters but human beings are social creatures and look for connection, that’s where the sympathetic character comes in.

Just ask Kevin Costner about Waterworld if you doubt me. Cloverfield never managed to make me care about the people on the screen. They were a bunch of rich, spoiled twenty-somethings who were busy trashing each other’s characters, drinking, mooching, and generally being frat boys and girls. Not only was it filmed in the old, “home movie” style (which no one watches if they can possibly get out of it), it had all the plot and interest of a high school reunion with the popular crowd but without Buffy, Angel, Spike, Xander or Wilow. You know, anyone who could be a hero, or even interesting. And the movie spent the first 3rd of itself on boring, gossipy trash about people you don’t care about. If their goal was to make you dislike everyone in that movie, they did at least manage to have that much success.

So just as we’re thinking of turning the movie off, or at least skipping to the interesting parts, (and believe me it was tempting—so very tempting) it starts to promise that something interesting and even possibly good is about to happen.

The monster attacks. Of course we don’t actually get to see any good shots of the monster. We do see some military troops running through the streets, a few explosions and the like. We never cut away to the military command, we never get any “expert opinion” on what might be going on. No, we get camera guy–played as big and dumb–remembering an article about scientists discovering a previously thought extinct fish off the coast of Australia and “Maybe this thing is like that.”

That’s it folks. So it’s not a monster movie. That would involve more, well, monster. This was frat boys and girls whose main lines were “Oh my god!” running away from and then running back towards certain death. And they’re not even likeable frat boys and girls. The viewer is kind of left with the moral dilemma of hoping that either A) the characters go through some kind of growth and become decent human beings or B) the ground opens up and swallows them whole. That’s a bad place to be in while watching a movie. I’d have rooted for the monster but I never got to see it. Actually by the end of the movie I was rooting for the monster.

And so we’re left with hoping for a horror movie, but the movie doesn’t come through with that either. It thinks about it, especially in the subway tunnel, but doesn’t quite make it there. And when camera boy (Hud–really strained themselves on that name, didn’t they?) gets partially eaten, again, we didn’t care. We knew he was going to die–duh. Plus he was a vile human being. They didn’t show enough gore to make it appeal to the grue crowd (for which we are eternally thankful) and by that time we knew everyone was going to die. And we still didn’t like any of them.

Cloverfield is a series of promises that never get kept. It is annoying and boring. I know more about the monster from what I looked up online than I was ever told in the movie. And if it didn’t appear in the movie—what good is it? Is the movie supposed to inspire us to fan fiction? Good gravy, I shuddered even writing that. Although I’m sure anyone who can string nouns and verbs together could likely do a better fan fiction than the movie provided, for the sake of my sanity I am not going to go searching for it.

I can’t decide if Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster is actually the worst monster movie, or if Cloverfield wins that competition. Make no mistake Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster is truly awful. But it’s awful in a cheesy, ridiculous, we are going as far over the top with this as our effects will let, us kind of way.

Honestly, I can’t decide because for all of its goofy flaws at least Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster is what it is: a monster movie. Also in a notable departure from Cloverfield, Godzilla vs. Hedorah has a message. It’s not meaningless and the characters, while occasionally annoying, are human and sympathetic.

On second thought I’m going to say that Cloverfield belongs in the same category as the 1998 Godzilla starring Matthew Broderick, only far far worse. But the reason for being in the same category is because both movies said they were something they were not. The 1998 Godzilla was never Godzilla (although a perfectly good monster movie) and Cloverfield was never a monster movie.

Cloverfield isn’t anything because it was so busy being clever it couldn’t get around to actually telling a good story. Or any story for that matter, let alone become a monster movie. The final scene might have been poignant–if we’d been given any reason to care about the characters (who, it might be stated, either regenerate or have superhuman endurance).

My opinion: Cloverfield is overwrought and fails to deliver. I say this as someone who did actually sit through all of The Guyver with Mark Hamill and the Gamera movies from the 1960’s (ok so it was the MST3K version of the Gamera movies but I did make it through).

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