J.J. Abrams likes secrets and knows how to keep them. However, it’s pretty remarkable that the lid on “10 Cloverfield Lane” managed to stay closed for so long. Well, it helps when you don’t even tell the cast members that the movie they shot, which went under the working title “The Cellar” or “Valencia,” was now part of a major franchise — and even then, only mention that fact before the trailer is about to drop.
“[Director] Dan [Trachtenberg] called me literally an hour before the trailer came out and told me the title of the movie,” Mary Elizabeth Winstead told Rolling Stone. “My first reaction was ‘… OK. That’s interesting. I’m not quite sure how to feel about it, but that’s interesting. And then I started checking Twitter around the time that the trailer dropped and I was like: ‘Oh!’ ”
The genesis for all this started when Abrams, who produced the picture, first picked up the spec script for what was then known as “The Cellar,” and it sparked in him the idea that it could be something more.
So, how did this not-a-sequel turn out? Well, early reviews have almost all been positive, and point to a movie that’s a good, ol’ fashioned thriller. Here’s what the critics had to say:
Variety: “…a sensationally effective semi-sequel that bears virtually no narrative or stylistic resemblance to its predecessor.”
The Wrap: “Viewers will remember the resolution, sure, but if they look back fondly on “10 Cloverfield Lane,” it will be for the joy of not knowing.”
THR: “Unexpected, in the best sense.”
Screen Crush: ” ’10 Cloverfield Lane,’ an unrelenting thrill ride from start to finish, is best experienced by entering it knowing as little as possible.”
The Telegraph: “Part of the lasting intrigue of the original ‘Cloverfield’ was that we never found out exactly what its title stood for – but if the answer turns out to be a smart and suspenseful modern-day ‘Twilight Zone’ franchise, it would be the most satisfying twist imaginable.
Games Radar: “Originally entitled ‘Valencia,’ it doesn’t take a cynic to point out that slipping ‘Cloverfield’ into the title of this Bad Robot production can only boost box-office prospects. What’s not to be doubted is the effectiveness of this tense, claustrophobic three-hander.
EW: “Like Shyamalan’s ‘Signs,’ it’s 90 minutes of anticipation – ominous trap-setting that leads to a big pay-off that is well staged but also a little anticlimactic and hokey. In the end, I wished there was a better payoff to warrant all the mystery.
“10 Cloverfield Lane” opens on Friday. Check out the new images, TV spots, and posters below plus a 56-minute podcast talk with Mary Elizabeth Winstead.