10 Cloverfield Lane Director Explains That Crazy Ending

Monday, 14 March 2016 - 1:25PM
10 Cloverfield Lane
Monday, 14 March 2016 - 1:25PM
10 Cloverfield Lane Director Explains That Crazy Ending
After months of insanely secretive guerilla marketing, 10 Cloverfield Lane is finally out in theaters, and the verdict is in: the Cloverfield "blood relative" is a smart, well-written, unbearably tense little movie (that, incidentally, doesn't have very much to do with Cloverfield), featuring an Oscar-worthy performance from John Goodman. Those of you who have seen it know that it also has an insane ending, which some critics and fans, including us, have felt was out of sync with the rest of the movie. If you've seen the movie already, or if you're not spoiler-averse, director Dan Trachtenberg addressed that crazy ending, and why it was the entire point of the film.

Major spoilers for 10 Cloverfield Lane ahead!




10 Cloverfield Lane takes place almost entirely in a bunker, in which Mary Elizabeth Winstead's Michelle goes toe-to-toe with John Goodman's doomsdayer Howard, who at first has ambiguous intentions but turns out to be a psychopath. He also happens to be right, and after Michelle defeats him and gets out of the bunker, she finds that the world has, in fact, been taken over by aliens emitting poisonous gas. She faces off against a giant alien, has an epic CGI battle with it, and kills it, only to drive straight towards more of the alien destruction in order to help other survivors.

Many thought that the ending was over-the-top compared to the restrained nature of the first two-thirds of the movie, but according to Trachtenberg, that was very much the intention:

Opening quote
"The fun of the story for me was this wishful fulfillment of all the times you would go see a movie," Trachtenberg told io9. "You get in the cars afterwards and you're like 'That was great, but wouldn't it have been crazy if at the end THIS happened?' And we finally did THAT. We finally made a movie doing that crazy thing you would have pitched in the car."
Closing quote

He also felt that the ending was important for Michelle's character arc, which was essentially an offbeat superhero origin story:

Opening quote
""That ending was everything," Trachtenberg said. "The idea of her choosing to go into certain danger is, I think, one of the coolest endings for a movie. Having that sense of character, what she's like in the beginning and then seeing that decision in the end. It isn't going into the sunset and everything is going to be okay. In fact, things are going to be potentially worse, but she's ready to face it. That is the theme of the movie for me.

"I wanted to make sure Michelle's arc wasn't finished until the very last moments. That it didn't feel like she had a complete story and then something else happened. It felt like when she gets out, now what's she's going to do? Which is the thing in life. Whenever you finish something, you still have more to do and you still didn't quite answer her dilemma."
Closing quote

Personally, I can get on board with Michelle's ending, in which she heads toward certain danger, without necessarily agreeing that the "ending you pitched in the car" is the best ending for a finished film. But I appreciate the idea that Trachtenberg was aiming to give the audience exactly what they wanted and craft an entirely satisfying ending.

From J.J. Abrams' recent statements, it seems that the Cloverfield movies will be relatively self-contained, and will essentially serve as a horror anthology series set in the same universe. So Trachtenberg didn't say anything specific about sequels, but he teasingly left the door open for more installments: 

Opening quote
"It always would tickle the back of my brain, 'Oh my god it would be so cool if this really was an origin story,'" he said. "But at the same time it's cool that even if this were the only movie, how cool is it that the only movie is a badass little origin story? It makes it even more emotional at the end."
Closing quote
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