Lee reviews 10 Cloverfield Lane, and talks a little about “spiritual successors”.
More interesting yet harder to define than the “spin-off” is the “spiritual successor;” a concept where, rather than inheriting characters or locations or lingering plot threads from its predecessor, a movie inherits more subtle traits such as tone, message, humour, style and other such dormant filmmaking trickery. Think more “Cornetto Trilogy”, less “Puss in Boots”.
It makes for fun movie conversation. Interstellar is like Inception, in space! Ender’s Game is like The Hunger Games, in space! Lost in Space is like, well, you get the idea. It’s not always true, and not always as creative as taking themes from one movie and applying them to another should be, but it’s still fun to discuss and analyse.
The difficulty comes when people apply expectations to the mix. If your average movie watcher hears Zathura is in some way a successor to Jumanji, they can easily start thinking it’s gonna be like Jumanji; but when they find out its Jumanji in space without Robin Williams, it doesn’t matter if it has a similar energy to the original, they’re pretty likely to switch off or compare it unfavourably.
And so, in a similar vein, 10 Cloverfield Lane asks audiences to remember 2008’s monster movie Cloverfield. Then, it asks for that same audience to immediately forget everything they know about Cloverfield as a story, because this new film does not share a single plot thread with the original. It’s a risky move, and hopefully one that pays off because this movie does deserve to be seen.
A tight, well-told premise with some excellent acting by all three of its leads; 10 Cloverfield Lane is a master-class in suspense that had me constantly involved and wondering what would happen next, but always keeping me at arm’s length so I couldn’t easily guess the next twist or turn. Scary in all the right ways with no cheapness what-so-ever, it burns along at just over an hour and a half and has one of the craziest, weirdest endings to a claustrophobic escape thriller you could possibly imagine.
10 Cloverfield Lane is a true spiritual successor in that it captures what made the original great, but isn’t afraid to take that energy and tension and tell its own story with it. Hopefully those who like their fast-paced nail-biters won’t be deterred by the title, because this was a joy to watch.