Posted on Monday, March 28th, 2016 by Peter Sciretta
Okay, now that 10 Cloverfield Lane has been out for a few weeks, the filmmakers have begun taking about spoilers. Want to hear about the thought and planning behind the ending of 10 Cloverfield Lane? We have some cool concept art to show you, some comments from director Dan Trachtenberg on not only the film’s ending, but deleted scenes and an IMAX-style aspect ratio expansion that was planned but abandoned during post production. So if you’ve seen the movie, hit the jump to learn the secrets behind the 10 Cloverfield Lane ending. Insert super obvious spoiler warning here.
Why The 10 Cloverfield Lane Ending Works
Before we get to the filmmakers comments, I wanted to point out a great article by Tasha Robinson over at The Verge which has a great interpretation of the film. I know a few people, including some writers/podcasters at /Film, were bothered by the genre jump at the end of the film.
10 Cloverfield Lane is fundamentally about domestic abuse. Howard is a classic abuser, to such a degree that his actions run down a straight checklist of common tactics and warning signs. From his first moments with Michelle, he’s more interested in controlling her than comforting her. He has no empathy for her, or understanding of what’s going on in her head. He threatens her with violence when she disobeys his arbitrary rules, then seems baffled a moment later about why she’s upset. He’s jealous and volatile. He terrifies her, then blames her for hurting his feelings by not showing him enough gratitude and respect. He isolates her from her friends and family, both physically, by locking her into the bunker, and emotionally, by repeatedly claiming they’re all dead and there’s no way to even attempt to contact them. …
When Michelle escapes the bunker and finds a new threat waiting, this is partially an extension of the abuse metaphor. For victims of domestic abuse, just getting out of the house doesn’t immediately solve all their problems. For the metaphor to stay sound, 10 Cloverfield Lane needs to acknowledge that finding the courage to leave an abuser doesn’t guarantee a happily-ever-after. For a moment, when Michelle first removes her makeshift gas mask and learns that Howard was wrong about the poisonous air, it seems like the movie might end on a note of relief, and the promise that her problems are over. But that would be facile, and would also mean that Michelle had been in a standard slasher movie, where arbitrarily bad things happen to random people, and nothing much is learned. And that wouldn’t be in keeping with the movie’s actual arc, which is all about the way Michelle comes to terms with her abuse. Michelle’s problems didn’t start with Howard, and they don’t end with him. They aren’t imaginary, like the toxic threat, and they aren’t just part of some vague general calamity. They’re specific and personal, and they require a specific, personal catharsis. And that’s the primary reason the big, direct confrontation is necessary in the final act.
I love that interpretation of the film’s ending, and if you dig it please check out the rest of Tasha’s article on The Verge. When Trachtenberg was asked by Hitfix about the genre-changing ending, he explained it as follows:
It was to do have something that wasn’t just a little tag at the end. ‘Oh and this is what the world is.’ No, now you have to deal with that. That was always the really exciting thing.
International Trailers Spoil Almost Everything
And speaking of spoilers, I love how the marketing campaign in the United States didn’t give away too many of the twists and turns of the movie. Unfortunately, international audiences are getting a different marketing campaign as 10 Cloverfield Lane hits their markets. Watch the trailer embedded above to see how much of the ending of 10 Cloverfield Lane is spoiled in the international trailers.
There’s really only one in the body of the movie, where in the montage of them gathering supplies, there was one bit where they’re getting stuff in the hallway, and the shelving unit tips over. It was setting up that she could toss that shelving unit on Howard in the end…it was not necessary. And in the end of the movie, the biggie is — which hopefully we can finish for the Blu-ray or something — after she drives off, she smashes into the creature, and the creature is on the hood of the car, and bursts through her dash, and sends its teeth tentacles [into the car] strangling her, and then she turns and kills it by driving it into the fire of the downed spaceship.
You can see a concept image of this climactic scene created by artist Raul Dominguez. But that extra confrontation hit the cutting room floor after they test screened the film:
We did one test screening for the movie, and they felt like, the audience was exhausted [and] it was too cheesy, and a very horror movie thing to do. It was just too much, and we had been through enough, and it was fine. It allowed us to save on effects, and finish all the shots that we really needed to finish.
I’d love to see this final confrontation finished for the Blu-ray, lets hope it happens.
Hit the next page to find out about the unused shot that almost earned the film an R-rating and an IMAX-style aspect ratio expansion that was planned but abandoned in post production; learn how Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s performance in the ending scenes was partially driven by a real-life fever; and finally, see some early unused concept art of 10 Cloverfield Lane‘s alien creatures.