10 Cloverfield Lane, which just hit theaters, is not the sequel to Cloverfield. Rather, JJ Abrams has patiently explained, it’s its “spiritual successor”. But just what is a spiritual successor? I must admit, after watching two different trailers, as well as Abrams’ appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week, I still wasn’t quite sure what he meant. I figured I’d wait to see the movie.
Then Mary Elizabeth Winstead put in her own showing on the Late Show, and I had what Abrams might call an Awakening. Colbert opened her segment by screening a brief clip from the movie,* in which John Goodman explains just why he’s done to Winstead what he’s done.** A few minutes later, Colbert describes that conversation in his own words: “In the movie there, you’re like in an underground shelter, hiding — he says — from something terrible.”
And Colbert’s not the only one to use those precise words, even though — to the best of my knowledge — they do not appear in any of the movie’s scarce promotional materials:***
That’s a pretty specific phrase to be cropping up over and over and over and over again in connection with the same movie. And it just so happens that this language hearkens directly back to the original Cloverfield, which included such unforgettable dialogue**** as:
“What was that?”
“What was that?”
“I don’t know. Something else. Also terrible.”
Given their overwhelming significance to the earlier movie — those quotes, to me, encapsulate the very essence of the film — I think it’s fair to say their reappearance, in whatever form it comes, provides justification enough for Abrams’ decision to draw an explicit link between the projects. You might even say it wasn’t a decision at all, so much as the truth.
*Which may or may not have appeared in some earlier trailer. I don’t know. I’ve been trying to avoid them, but can’t turn off Colbert.
**Trying to avoid the commission of even non-spoiler spoilers, for those who might prefer to remain entirely innocent.
***See, supra, fn *.
****That sequence may or may not be currently listed among the very few quotes that grace my Facebook profile (from all the way back when that was a thing people did).