The real monsters are in your head… Or are they?
“HOLY SHIT – WHAT THE HECK DID I JUST- no – No NO NOOOO… pfft – It can’t be that ridiculous – Bloody Hell it is! – How the heck – WHAT ? – That did not just happen.”
That was an extract from the musings of my mind when watching 10 Cloverfield Lane. Yeah – I’m aware I sound like Confusious. But if you can watch this movie and not be awestruck by the mind numbing ambiguity when it ends, I’m going to stop calling myself ‘Sarcofagus’ – and go with ‘Donald Trump’ instead. Or ‘Lemonade’.
Now you’re probably asking the million-dollar (cause million-rupee just sounds weird) question right now –
IT. ANY. GOOD?
And let me attempt to answer that – by way of explaining the plot. In fact – scratch that. There is no discernable plot. All I can do, without spoiling the review, is tell you how the movie starts. It starts with a woman, frantically stuffing her bag with stuff – and storming out of a perfectly normal house on a perfectly normal afternoon. And to answer the question I’ve asked above, this angry-stuffing-her-bag-storming-out woman scene is the only normal thing that happens in the entire movie.
Everything from that (relatively) normal opening moment onwards, is pure bonkers.
And if you’re thinking bonkers equates ‘boring’ or ‘stupid’ – 10 Cloverfield Lane will forever change that perception. When I watched the original ‘Cloverfield’, it took me 20 agonising minutes to realise why the movie was the most brilliant Point of View movie I’d seen. Many people disagreed with its average plot – or it’s uninspiring storyline, but I understood what the movie went for – and appreciated the pure awesomeness of a story from a totally normal person’s perspective.
“10 Cloverfield Lane” though, is what they’re calling a ‘spiritual successor’ to the first movie. It’s got no POV shots, and shares almost nothing with the previous movie. Except one thing. The macro-lens perspective of the larger story. The idea that when you’re one person in a confined space – you cannot really know what’s happening outside.
And the beauty of this idea – is the fact that this ambiguity about the real nature of the plot translates verbatim to the audience as well.
Thus – the “Monk Confusious-like rant” in the beginning.
The thing that strikes you the most about 10 Cloverfield Lane though – is not the lack of clarity, or the fact that you’re continuously kept in the dark about what’s going to happen next. It is the inability to attribute any single genre to this movie. It starts with – “Yawn, another typical movie”, then moves onto “Damn, I hate these twisted kinda movies” – and then suddenly jumps, rather horrifically into – “YAAAh – Why would he do that man?” onto “Oh I’m so happy it’s not some ridiculous alien shit” and finally concludes with you looking around like a Meerkat, left in a theatre full of severely palpitating people asking each other–
“Did anyone else see that or am I tripping on psychedelic substances?”
Another important point to mention here is the sound effects. Sound can often make or break a movie – and the best example of a crap movie with superb sound effects is “Transformers”. I’m talking about the part when they are errr… “transforming”. And ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ is a movie you’ve absolutely got to – without argument – watch on an IMAX screen, to really grasp what I’m talking about. Or you could watch it on a cheap ass screen if you’re broke and hate your job. The sounds they’ve gone with range from making you jump when a door slams shut or feeling a chill run down your spine every time the background score kicks in.
And I think the sound was an absolutely essential ‘tick’ in the checklist that makes this a splendid movie.
The funny thing is, I’ve never even heard of the director – a Mr. Dan Trachtenberg. I did know both the “John’s” in the movie though – and along with the lead Mary Elizabeth Winstead, made for a stellar cast. The contrasting (read ‘conniving’) nature of the characters – especially the crisp acting by Mary – really made the plot pop with energy.
So, as of now you have an action-ish sort of a movie. You have good actors, an unknown Director and a legacy left behind by the first of it’s franchise – ‘Cloverfield’. Now – how do you make all this better?
One word – Philosophy (defined as the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence).
And boy did they totally screw with your definition of “Reality and Existence”.
Yup – the thing that had me intrigued the most when I saw the poster for the movie was the tagline – “Monsters come in many forms”. And to merely say they played on that theme, is the understatement of the year. They didn’t just ‘play’ on it – they based the whole goddamn movie on it. In fact – the term ‘many forms’ is severely underrated in the tagline. The ‘Monsters’ in this movie come in way more than ‘many’ forms of psychological fears. They come in the form of the fear of the unknown. Fear due to stereotypes. The fear of predicting wrong. The fear of expecting the worst. The fear of the aftermath of the worst. The fear of our twisted imagination screwing with our heads. The fear of Aliens (because you know – ‘Cloverfield’).
And all these fears drag themselves along the length of the movie – hiding behind corners, waiting to jump at you when you least expect it.
Imagine you’re a super nerdy student in 8th grade. And you’re writing notes in “History” class (while the rest of the class nods off or mocks your conceited posterior), and every single time you finish writing and flip a page, the class bully tears the old page. Yeah. That’s what this movie feels like. The more you think you’ve figured it out, the less you actually have. The movie could be termed as perhaps the best conceptual see-saw storyline I’ve ever witnessed. And there’s a reason I say “see-saw” instead of “unexpected turn of events”.
The movie doesn’t surprise you with new stuff as much as it does with proving you wrong at every turn.
It’s like when you get a bad feeling about the day, and then convince yourself you’re acting stupid, and then strut outside all proud and confident, only to meet with an accident, and realise that the ‘stupid’ feeling you had in the morning was actually correct. But wait – the accident you met with stopped you from reaching your building, which collapsed due to an earthquake, and now you’re alive only because of the accident. But the doctor who had previously told you your hand would be okay after the accident just switched his statement, and is now saying your hand’s damaged forever, and you’ll never draw again, and that’s crazy cause you’re an artist. (The preceding section should have been read like Eminem’s 3rd verse in “Rap God”, i.e. blazingly fast. But “Oh – you were finished?”)
Yeah – that’s the kind of movie “10 Cloverfield Lane” is.
It lifts you up, and throws you down, then halts a second before you hit the ground, and just when your unexpected relief washes over you to make you stop screaming – it slams you head first into the concrete. In the end, you’re just utterly confused, and yet shaking to the bone because of what you saw.
You’re left loathing the fact that you know no more, but revel in the glorious visual treat you were subject to.
“10 Cloverfield Lane” is unorthodox in the truest meaning of the word. And I can declare – without an iota of hesitation – that this movie is a masterpiece of epic proportions. I assure you that your life would be rather drab without this experience.
Do yourself a favour.
Watch it now.10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), Cloverfield (2010), Dan Trachtenberg, John Gallagher Jr., John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead