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10 Big Questions Left Unanswered By 10 Cloverfield Lane

Cloverfield Lane
By  · Published on March 11th, 2016

It’s incredible that nobody even knew about 10 Cloverfield Lane before January. Well, not by name, anyway. We know it was originally The Cellar and then Valencia. Had we been aware earlier that it was being turned into a sequel, of sorts, to Cloverfield, we surely would have had it on our list of most anticipated movies of 2016. And it would have been one of the first titles on that list not to disappoint. The film is here, and it is pretty good (see Rob’s review). But it still left us confused about some details.

Below are the questions we still can’t answer. Obviously they’re filled with SPOILERS.

1. Where is the Cloverfield Monster?

Isn’t this a sequel to Cloverfield? Why wasn’t it the giant creature from the first movie in this one? Shouldn’t he have been the threat revealed at the end? Okay, so we’re aware this isn’t a direct follow-up to the 2008 monster movie. It’s apparently not even in the same universe, though, despite anyone’s attempt to make up the idea there’s a Slusho Shared Cinematic Universe multi-franchise going on. Because surely if the events of Cloverfield had happened in the world of these new characters, there’d not necessarily be mention but there’d be at least some kind of implicit acknowledgment.

2. Are the aliens related to the Cloverfield Monster?

As far as we know, this new movie is really supposed to be entirely independent of the events of Cloverfield. It just has the word “cloverfield” in the title as a way of making an anthology series of small-budget sci-fi thrillers. It’s like Bob Hope and Bing Crosby putting “Road to” in front of a movie, sort of. The aliens seemingly tacked onto this movie at the end are as related to the Cloverfield Monster as the camels in Road to Morocco are related to the gorilla in Road to Zanzibar. Besides, the Cloverfield creature isn’t even an alien. It’s a monster from the ocean, like Godzilla. I guess we don’t know if these new aliens are extraterrestrial either, but they do have a spaceship. Or is that an organic creature that flies and just looks like a spaceship? It had a mouth. That was weird.

10 Cloverfield Lane Monster

3. Is John Goodman the true Cloverfield Monster?

I think we can actually answer this one, at least in an interpretative if not concrete manner: yes. As the tagline for 10 Cloverfield Lane states, “monsters come in many forms.” In Cloverfield, the “Cloverfield Monster” is “Clover,” the giant creature that attacks New York City. In 10 Cloverfield Lane, the “Cloverfield Monster” is a human man who kidnaps young women and keeps them in his bunker, whether or not there’s a real threat of weapons of mass destruction or aliens outside. It just so happens that there is indeed an alien threat outside now, and facing that threat is kind of preferred to being in a bunker with the human man Cloverfield Monster. At least if you’re as resourceful as Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character.

4. Did the Cloverfield Monster really know about the alien invasion?

The way the Cloverfield Monster tells it, he learned there was some sort of attack happening so he was rushing home to his get in his bunker. And he accidentally crashed into Michelle (Winstead), saved her life and brought her back with him to save her even further from whatever the threat was. But nothing he says is to be trusted, so maybe he really purposefully crashed into Michelle and kidnapped her, as he is apparently prone to do, and it just turned out coincidentally that aliens were really invading at the same time. Maybe he even killed his pigs as part of his usual ruse. Was he shocked to see his neighbor truly harmed by something? Did he ever learn the truth about what was out there?

5. Is the Cloverfield Monster partly responsible for the alien invasion?

We learn in the movie that the Cloverfield Monster worked with satellites. And satellites are in space. That’s where aliens come from. Obviously there’s a connection. After all, why else would there even be a mention of satellites? In a lengthy discussion at Screen Crush, bigger questions are raised:

Did Tagruato, via Bold Futura, once again cause an apocalyptic attack? Could Slusho!, which according to Tagruato’s site has recently been expanded into West Africa, have anything to do with it? Was Howard the one who discovered the incoming invasion first, or was he the one who summoned the aliens through satellite communications?

Of course, viral marketing materials aren’t actually relevant to the actual movie. Or so we’ve been told by plenty of people.

6. Why did the Cloverfield Monster shoot Emmett then?

Here’s the answer we presume the Cloverfield Monster would give with his own logic, at least in his own head: he had to shoot Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) not only because Emmett was doing something shady and secretive that might be dangerous to the rest of the bunker family but because it was a good way to finally get the guy out of the way so it’s just down to the Cloverfield Monster and his prey. But why even let Emmett in the bunker in the first place, then? Why let Michelle see this act of violence against her new friend, which would surely set her out on a rebellious act of her own? For both reasons, the Cloverfield Monster would have immediately chained Michelle again to keep her his prisoner and slave. Speaking of which, why did he have to handcuff her and lock her up, immediately giving her reason to feel like a captive and want to get away?

7. Did the Cloverfield Monster actually like Pretty in Pink?

When Emmett erroneously asks the Cloverfield Monster if he’s watching Sixteen Candles, he’s told that it’s in fact Pretty in Pink and that it was his daughter’s favorite movie. In that context it appears that he’s watching the movie because it makes him feel closer to his daughter, who is gone away and now maybe even dead. But was that actually Brittany’s favorite movie and he had it there to help make his captive comfortable? Did the Cloverfield Monster even have a real daughter? And does he like Pretty in Pink but not Sixteen Candles for some reason? What does he think of The Breakfast Club?

8. Why did we need to see the “10 Cloverfield Lane” mailbox?

It’s fine that this movie took on the Cloverfield branding even though it’s not really related in any way to Cloverfield. But the title is all we really needed. We could easily just assume the Cloverfield Monster’s farmhouse was located at the address in the title. And the original movie’s title had no clear meaning whatsoever, so we didn’t really need one for this either. If there’s anything that feels really tacked on and forced it’s the shot of the mailbox explicitly telling us that fact.

9. Why doesn’t Michelle document the aliens with her iPhone camera at the end?

Don’t say she didn’t have her iPhone during her escape (she didn’t, right?). That’s not the point. The point is that the movie should have had the phone on her during he escape. Or she could have found one on the dead neighbor woman. But somehow she needed a personal camera of some sort to document the aliens during her entire encounter with them, because as the first Cloverfield showed us, that’s what people of her generation do. They just keep rolling, even in danger because the danger is spectacle and the generation is always self-documenting. Speaking of her iPhone, why didn’t the speakerphone button light up when she answered the call from her fiancee (Bradley Cooper)? That’s a glaring goof.

10. What happens next?

We thought we’d get a true Cloverfield sequel to help explain the first one and all the questions it left us with. Instead we have a new story that’s totally unrelated. Will we ever find out where the aliens came from or what they want? And will we ever get to see Michelle fight them in Houston? Will the alien invasion be defeated? It’s unlikely we’ll ever get a 10 Cloverfield Lane 2, and that’s part of the intention with these movies. They’re small stories with methods of depicting the sort of obscured perspective we rarely get with the genre. Still, Michelle is clearly going to find out more, unlike the main characters of Cloverfield who died having gained little additional knowledge about the attack than when they started out. Basically, 10 Cloverfield Lane should have killed Michelle. We’d have a lot less interest in knowing what’s next if that’s how the movie had ended.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.