One minute you are sure you know what’s going on, the next minute you realize you know nothing at all. It’s that kind of movie.
Before J.J. Abrams ‘Awaken the Force’ or rebooted the ‘Star Trek’ franchise, there was Cloverfield.
For those who have no idea what ‘Cloverfield’ is, I can help you get a clearer picture. Cloverfield is the kind of film like ‘The Happening’, ‘Daredevil’ and ‘Garfield the Movie’. Although I don’t believe there is such thing as bad movie, Cloverfield sure is one.
So when J.J. announced that he will make another Cloverfield movie, the audience was not so pleased.
Fortunately, to the film’s advantage, 10 Cloverfield Lane came out right after J.J. Abrams has already rebooted two of the biggest franchise in the movie history and was adored by every nerd around the world.
However, the one thing that makes people anticipated for 10 Cloverfield Lane so much was not J.J.’ recognition, but the first trailer instead.
To me, this is the best trailer I’ve ever seen in my life. It revealed almost no major plot to the movie and still manages to create enough intense and suspense atmosphere to draw the audience to go to the theater.
10 Cloverfield Lane took me on the roller-coaster ride once again. The constant switch between doubt and trust to each character in the film almost make me go crazy.
In summary, this story takes place mostly in one bunker. Michelle wakes up in an apocalyptic underground bunker which belongs to Howard Stambler. This strange man claims that he saved her life from the alien invasion and forces her to stay only in that bunker, along with him and another stranger -Emmett. Then the audience would join Michelle and try to figure out who Howard really is.
Warning: The following content will be full of Spoilers! Major plots and important messages will be revealed. Therefore, make sure you watch the film first before reading this
Trust and Doubts
Since the first moment I see Michelle woke up with a broken leg and cuffed to the pipe, I know whoever brought her there didn’t mean well. As Howard began to explain himself about the doomsday stories, all I have in my head –which is probably in Michelle’s head also, is ‘he is obviously crazy’.
“Emmett: Could have been the Russians, aliens, maybe the South Koreans…
Michelle: You mean North Koreans?
Emmett: Is that the crazy one? Then yeah.”
The chances are he really did mean to save her, or only use the doomsday as an excuse to keep her there, or he made up everything about doomsday to kidnap her, or it’s that he is only hallucinating about the doomsday because he’s crazy and ended up taking Michelle with him.
All the theory ran around in my head in the first act. All I know is that Michelle cannot trust that strange man. He is too weird to be good.
Only until Michelle has successfully managed to escape, no –more like managed to reach the door, and see what really happened out there that my opinion shift for the first time.
“People are strange creatures. You can’t always convince them that safety is in their best interest.”
‘So what he’s saying true’, ‘We shouldn’t judge people just by their appearance after all’ were my thoughts.
A psychopath and Aliens
But after a while the fact that Howard was telling the truth or not no longer matter to the story. As he started to get creepier as the film goes, his initial intention becomes irrelevant.
He forced her to take a shower or use the toilet with the door open and him watching. He controlled her and Emmett like pets. He often cannot control his own emotion. Those are major giveaways for a dominant psychopath.
Using terrifying world outside to keep them there with him, the film starts to make audience question themselves which one is more terrifying, living in the bunker with the abusive Howard or the doomsday waiting outside.
“One chance to answer with some dignity or I swear you’re going into this barrel while you’re still alive to feel the pain!”
Monsters come in many forms
The movie’s tagline is ‘monsters com in many forms’ which to me, really sums up the main plot of the movie. By the second act, most of the audience would be focusing on the scary world outside. Just like in real life, people are afraid of aliens, wild animals, wars, terrorist, and those huge destructive entities while neglecting the fact that the real devil is in disguise.
The real devil is in everyone’s head.
The real devil is the one who we don’t know its intention
…..until it’s too late.
And if you get this, the doomsday won’t even be terrifying to you. Having to live in a room with a real monster is more terrifying than going out to the unknown.
No matter how the three try to live their lives as normal as possible, there is still this sense of insecurity emitting from Howard.
If you understand this, then it would be totally logical for Michelle to run away from Howard knowing the outside world is unlivable.
Life is full of endless traumas
Regardless of the admirably intense story in the underground bunker, people still manage to find some flaws in the third act. There are an enormous amount of complaint about how the alien scenes are unnecessary and possibly ruin the almost flawless film completely.
However, if being interpreted properly, the ending would surprise you with perfection. As the terrifying aliens awaiting Michelle after surviving from the abusive Howard is actually the most suitable ending of all.
In real life, escaping from the scary problem will never be the end of the problems. Life means constantly facing difficulties and being able to overcome them.
That being said, if the first two acts of the film represent the petrifying experience of abusive relationship, the post traumatic experience is usually much worse. The aliens and the hopeless world outside represent how people with trauma have to deal with their mental health which seems almost impossible to win over.
This is the right ending. Compare to those movies which the main protagonists survive a situation and live happily ever after, this kind of film with an open-ended ending is far better. For it honestly depicts real life for how it really is.
Life actually starts when you stop running away from your problems
For Michelle, it was not the ending. It didn’t end when she kill Howard. It didn’t end when she destroy that alien ship. It didn’t end at all. It started.
She started living when she decided to join the fight against the aliens. She could run away. She could have stayed hidden away somewhere and be safe, but she didn’t.
All her life, she has been running away. From her fiancé, from Howard, from the alien, she has been running.
But that’s not living. Not only until you embrace the problems as normal and start living with them. Only then can you really live your life to its full potential.