Marketing is arguably the most important factor of the film industry today. People won’t watch a film if they know nothing about it. Marketing strategies have had to become a lot more bold and experimental in the past decade, thanks to the increase in popularity of the Internet and social media. Sometimes, the marketing department can choose to advertise their film based solely on what is popular at the time, regardless of whether their film matches this. Trailers nowadays are considered incredibly important, with entire articles being written about them and people looking forward to new trailers being released – sometimes more than the film itself.
We have all known the deflating experience of seeing a really great trailer and anticipating the film, only to be terribly disappointed. Sometimes, they haven’t quite disappointed, but rather baffled or confused us. Take as a recent example 10 Cloverfield Lane; if you watched the trailer, it clearly attached ties to the 2008 film Cloverfield. But, if you watch the film, you’ll realise that there is hardly any real connection between the two films, except from a few references to some of J.J. Abrams’ other productions and some hurriedly tacked on scenes at the end. The film was announced a few months before its release and was considered a surprise by many. No one expected a sequel to Cloverfield, and no one really anticipated one eight years later.
Upon watching the new film, it feels like two separate stories in one movie; a thriller about a young woman who suddenly finds herself trapped in an underground nuclear bunker with a man of questionable sanity, then it becomes a sci-fi action involving an alien invasion!
Apparently, the script from which 10 Cloverfield Lane came from was titled ‘Cellar’, which makes sense! 80% of the film takes place in this cellar and the plot is centred around Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) learning more about her captor/saviour Howard (John Goodman) and his history.
Whilst in the cellar, there is speculation about who was behind the chemical attack that has seemingly killed everyone; the Russians, aliens, and even the prospect of there actually being no chemical attack whatsoever are all discussed by the two captives. For the first three quarters of 10 Cloverfield Lane, there are absolutely no references to Cloverfield (except from a few brands such as Slusho and Kelvin etc.). Visually, there are no similarities either – Cloverfield came out right at the beginning the revamped found footage phase and consisted of T.J. Miller shaking a camera around, this new apparent installment in the Cloverfield story is not a found footage film. This is now considered to be in the same universe as films like Super 8 and Cloverfield, although it is unclear where in any timeline these events all take place…
Since the film’s release, there has been a lot of speculation about why the creators of this chose to link it to a film released eight years ago, rather than release it as an individual story. You could argue that no one would have seen ‘Cellar’, even with big names like John Goodman and recognisable faces like Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Linking it to a somewhat popular film with a well-remembered title might just be enough to get people interested.
The unfortunate thing about all of this is that 10 Cloverfield Lane is actually a really good movie! Director Dan Trachtenberg and writers Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken have created a solid story with fantastic interactions between the three characters, which builds this incredibly tense atmosphere. With a tiny yet talented cast consisting on John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr., it is a well-performed, well-paced film with some excellent tense scenes. The extra terrestrial ending was completely unnecessary and seemed incredibly out of place.
After the first 90 minutes, you are already incredibly tense from the events unfolding in the bunker. Everything beyond it just seems a little bit limp in comparison. The shift in gears works well to give Michelle her character arc – from the girl who froze in terror whenever anything bad happens, to the woman who stands up and takes action – but this goes too far and she suddenly turns into Ellen Ripley from Aliens!
So far, it appears that this film has done well financially, it certainly is not a flop. However, is this because it was attached to Cloverfield? Many may have seen the potential connection to Cloverfield as a detriment and could be put off by this link. Or was it because people heard through word-of-mouth that it is a well-made thriller?
You can read our review of 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE here.