What’s the Story with Cloverfield
Whenever you have a film that crosses through space and time, the waters can get a bit muddy and timelines essentially go “out the window”. The trilogy (so far) of films connecting the Cloverfield universe don’t follow the linear pathway that one might expect from normal movie sequels. Whether that is because J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot friends planned it that way or just because they slapped “Cloverfield” on as many movies as they could is a point that we could argue. I tend to think that they’ve made a decision to expand their creation and it’s working its way into more of a Twilight Zone style of universe instead of your usual Sci-Fi/Action series in the vein of Alien. It won’t be for everyone, but I’m into it so I’m going to try to expand a little on what I’ve noticed in my recent viewings. Let’s start with a brief overview of what we know.
Cloverfield (2008) – “Look at that giant monster!”
This movie is wonderfully straight forward. A group of New Yorkers are followed by their friend who is filming the entire experience of their city being “attacked” by a massive creature. We only know what they know and only see what they see. The monster rampages through the city and we’re left with different questions as to whether there is more than one monster or just the one that we see. We’re not told where this thing came from or why it is attacking the city. Most of what we come to know later on is through deciphering Abrams’ answers to the media, the viral campaign, or Bad Robot’s uses of fictional companies like SLUSHO and the like. Abrams loves this kind of stuff.
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) – “Which is worse, being locked up with crazy or the unknown?”
Mary Elizabeth Winstead starts the movie off leaving her fiancé over the phone and ends the movie fighting an alien invasion. Talk about a crazy ass change of plans. The film follows Winstead’s Michelle as she wakes up after a car accident in a bunker with a couple of gentlemen and the threat of death on the outside. The movie is mostly thriller; the thought of what is potentially happening on the outside compared to the reality of what is going on inside. Michelle slowly uncovers bits and pieces about the background of John Goodman’s creepy as hell Howard, and eventually decides that the possibility of getting eaten by an alien is still better than whatever he might do to her. All that is good until she gets outside and almost gets eaten by a damned alien! The ending gets you pumped to see more from the story and it leaves us with far more questions than answers as to how this movie connects to the original Cloverfield.
The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) – “I hope this massive life-altering machine doesn’t alter life in any negative way.”
Energy and natural resources are nearly gone and the world is getting dark. A desperate attempt to get more of those things leads an international team of scientists and whatnot to develop some massive device that will probably destroy all existence. They instead end up traveling through into another dimension and open some portals that unleash hell on not just one Earth, but many. It’s probably the worst thing they could have done to a planet that was already in peril. Eventually they decide to touch down on the nearest Earth and we’re finally given a reason as to why this movie is in the Cloverfield Universe; a big-ass monster!
Okay, let’s try to piece some of this together now:
I read somewhere that the new horror film A Quiet Place was very close to becoming a member of the Cloverfield Universe. That makes a lot of sense to me (not having seen the film) as the connective tissue between these movies is less about story and more about tone. That tone is one of unpredictability and hopelessness. Cloverfield and 10 Cloverfield essentially introduce two different but equally horrible things happening in America. What we learn in The Cloverfield Paradox (I think) is that they seem so different because they’re actually happening on two different timelines or in two different dimensions. But the major connection is that creating this device has totally screwed up everything and there are gigantic monsters and tentacled aliens destroying our planet. Knowing that any and all options are on the table and can be used in some “alternate dimension”, it makes total sense that any and all movies could actually end up in the Cloverfield Universe. Word on the street is that the next film to sit under the Cloverfield banner is a World War 2 movie. Not sure what exactly that could mean but I’m liking the absolute randomness of what they’re creating. What do you think? Are you a fan of this type of storytelling or do you want to see more C-level superheroes and remakes?