When Cloverfield came out, I wasn't a huge Lost fan yet. I didn't really know who J.J. Abrams was and I certainly, at that point, didn't know who Matt Reeves or Drew Goddard were. If anything, I was just stoked to see what I thought might be a Godzilla-esque found footage film. Around that time, I'd started having ideas for a film that was perhaps an Alien invasion movie but limit it to the perspectives of the characters. What the characters didn't know, neither would the viewer. It's not an entirely original premise, admittedly, as we've seen it a few times since then (Cloverfield, Monsters, heck, even War of the Worlds was that way to a certain extent). Cloverfield though managed to accomplish what I'd wanted to see in a movie had I made it. It showed JUST enough of the monster throughout the film to keep our anticipation up. Even when we do see the whole monster, it's from a second hand source, like a news helicopter showing scenes on the television.
The characters know that's happening since they are at ground zero so to speak, but it makes me wonder what people in, say, Los Angeles might be thinking about when they watch a giant monster destroy New York. Would they think it was a hoax? I'm reminded of the new FX show, "The People vs. OJ Simpson". When I was a kid living in Los Angeles, the white Bronco chase on the highway was so widely televised, I'm almost positive that we paused school to bring the old-school tube televisions to watch the chase. It never occurred to me though, until I spoke to a colleague recently, that the chase was televised every where else in the country. Of course, the more apt metaphor is the clear allusion to September 11th (definitely more apt than my OJ story)... we all remember where we were on that day and none of it seemed real. Imagining a gigantic monster attacks Manhattan wouldn't seem real either.
Regardless, Cloverfield was less a movie about the monster and more about our relationships and how disasters affect them. I re-watched Cloverfield ahead of 10 Cloverfield Lane so I could get a primer on what I thought Abrams and crew were shooting for with this whole "blood relative"/"spiritual sequel" stuff. I actively looked for the connective thematic tissue, so to speak, between the movies the entire time. It wasn't until I took a step back, looked at the whole picture and realized what I'd already known: the monsters of Cloverfield aren't what we're meant to focus on; it's those relationships with one another in the face of conflict that we should pay attention to. It's not the disaster but how we react to disaster that define us. Whether it's Mary Elizabeth Winstead's character growth or telling someone you love them before the U.S. Military nukes the hell out of Central Park.
I dug 10 Cloverfield Lane and I like it more the more I think about it.
Go see it.