Why '10 Cloverfield Lane' May Predict The Future of Movies

Why '10 Cloverfield Lane' May Predict The Future of Movies

Mar 09, 2016


Blockbuster fatigue! Superhero fatigue! Franchise fatigue!

Not a week goes by without hearing someone shout these words into some kind of editorial bemoaning the state of big-budgeted movies on the big screen. And it's not like that's slowing Hollywood down -- if anything we have more franchise-driven movies these days than we've ever had before. Is that a bad thing? Depends on who you talk to. Is this the future of movies? At least for the time being... but a new film out this week may also give us a glimpse at the alternative.

What if you want the blockbuster concept without two hours of special effects shoved down your eye sockets? What if you want the big ideas, but would rather see them delivered in smaller packages?

Meet 10 Cloverfield Lane, a psychological cinematic chess game stuffed with thrills, chills and a neat little premise that keeps you guessing till the very last shot. It's also the first film from director Dan Trachtenberg, and what they're billing as a "blood relative" to 2008's Cloverfield, both produced by one of Hollywood's greatest showmen, J.J. Abrams.

"With [Abrams], it’s about being positive – it’s about putting wind in the sails. He’s really wonderful in that way," Trachtenberg tells us during a recent conversation ahead of the film's release. "This movie very much has its own engine. Just in the way that original Cloverfield movie was a familiar genre, but told in a very unique way. This movie is also a familiar genre, but told in its own unique way."

It may sound weird, but 10 Cloverfield Lane is like minor league baseball. It's cheaper to put together and it may not be stacked with A-list talent, but in a lot of ways there's more heart, more guts, and more risks being taken. They're leaving it all on the field because they've got everything to gain and nothing really to lose. 

And the audience feeds off that -- they feed off that spirit, that hunger, that drive. They may walk out of a tiny little minor league game with one of their most memorable baseball experiences ever, because at the end of the day it's more about experiencing the game than the spectacle.

"Cloverfield was this really original way of seeing a story that you’ve seen before," Trachtenberg says. "Our story is a little different, but it also has a uniqueness to it that allows you to experience a genre – or multiple genres – in a new way."

It really is all about the experience, and not the franchise. It's about the mythology, and not the badass special effects. Yes, the effects are cool and dazzling, but story will forever trump all. In the same way good pitching always defeats good hitting, a great story will always be more exciting than a well-choreographed fight scene.

Audiences are drawn to something that keeps them on their toes, and 10 Cloverfield Lane -- about a woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who's kept against her will in an underground bunker and told the world has ended outside -- consistently keeps you guessing as to what, exactly, is going on.

And when we do find out what's going on, it's all gravy by that point.

"I don’t think you see this movie and shrug and go have your dinner," Trachtenberg says. "I think you will be talking about it with whoever you saw it with as you’re walking out. It’s one thing to make a good movie, but to make a movie that you know is going to have an impact – that’s gonna be something – is really exciting."

And maybe that's the answer to -- wait for it -- [insert whatever] fatigue! Maybe more filmmakers and studios need to take these big franchises, extract the cooler aspects of their mythology, and deliver smaller experiences connected in ways that keep you hungry for more. As Trachtenberg calls it, a "sliver" movie.

"I love those kinds of sliver movies – Signs is like that in this way, too – where we’ve seen the bigger movie and this is like a vertical slice where we’re just with these people, having that experience," he says. "That’s super rad. I love that about Cloverfield, and we have something like that, too [in 10 Cloverfield Lane]. This is a potential disaster movie, but we’re experiencing it through this very intimate, suspenseful character story."

Sure, we still want (and need) the big Star Wars movie, the big Marvel movie, the big dinosaur-destroying-your-favorite-city movie, but 10 Cloverfield Lane proves there's another way to deliver the essence of those films in a smaller, more intimate package. One that keeps the big ideas feeling fresh and innovative -- and if this is any indication as to what we may see in the future, then pack my bags... I'm moving to Cloverfield Lane!

Categories: Features, Reviews, In Theaters
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