10 CLOVERFIELD LANE’s tagline reads: monsters come in many forms. Truth be told, no one can argue accuracy behind those words. Eight years after its predecessor, J.J. Abrams, along with a spectacular directorial debut by Dan Trachtenberg, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE will be leaving cinematic foot-prints of its terrorizing own. Laid out as a maniacal maze of mystery, from narrative to cast, the horrid beauty that is this film will remain untouched.
Paramount Pictures extended an invitation to this past Sunday’s press conference for the flick. And as usual, the chat exposes lots of behind-the-scenes magic.
At one point from the outside-looking-in, Trachtenberg ran the gauntlet of covering geek culture at conventions all over the country. Following the love of filmmaking and working at his own craft, he now sits on a throne full of critical thorns, yet embracing spirits as he’s released his first feature ever – and boy what an impression he’s made. When asked about his feelings regarding Hollywood spotlight and how scary and/or exciting it may be, Trachtenberg replies, “It’s both of those things, all the time. It was very exciting. Making a movie is something that I’ve wanted to do since I was three years old making movies in my backyard with my action figures and my best friends. And it was really exciting to finally do this thing that, you know, growing up I loved movies that really moved me physically – I loved when my heart would race and my palms would sweat and to make something that was this exciting and to really try and move people to the edge of their seats or back in them was an absolute thrill and I couldn’t have been more lucky to be able to make it.”
Of course without a script, a story can’t actually be. Co-writer Matt Stuecken expresses, “It actually started where I just had an opening scene for this idea in my head, and Josh [Campbell / Co-writer] and I were working separately at that point, and I pitched him the idea of that opening scene and he liked it so much that we decided to collaborate on it, and it was the first project we had done together, and less than two months after we started writing it was when Bad Robot and Paramount had decided to acquire the screenplay. And we were so excited ‘cause you just can’t do better than Bad Robot. So it was pretty amazing.”
Amazing indeed, but the script is only 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE’s structure. The magic comes in casting a tale full of terror. Starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher, Jr… the triangle of talent in this piece is pretty solid. Three characters in a matter of an hour-and-forty-five minutes can be exhausting. But the film manages to find its balance among the three, especially survivalist Michelle (Winstead) and doomsday prepper (Goodman). Approached if it’s more rewarding for an actor to be cast in a film with only three leads, Goodman replies, “The flipside of that is you have more lines to memorize. And at my advanced age, you know. But John and Mary Elizabeth were very patient with me. And I had an excellent director.” Mary Elizabeth adds, “I think, you know, when you’re lucky enough have the two other people be John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr., I think it’s the best opportunity ever. I mean, I got to just kind of sit through a master class of acting, just getting to sit opposite him every day. So yeah, I couldn’t have been luckier. I think it kind of depends on the actors, you know, and I lucked out on this one.”
One of the key elements to 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is the ability to tap into one’s psyche and feel the characters whether protagonist or antagonist. Thoughts or actions, it’s designed to be felt. Almost living it. Shooting it is one thing, but curiosity about the team’s deeper thoughts on personal reactions to such disasters was brought up, to which Trachtenberg mentions, “Yeah, the movie certainly is posing the question to all of us of like what would you do, and I think we all hope that we would react the way that Michelle reacts. I think she feels authentic and real with just a little bit more resourcefulness than maybe I actually have. But I do think that the idea that she immediately launches into survival mode is something that I really relate to whenever something happens, even just bad news. I immediately flip into okay, well, if I just do this, if I just do that, then everything – like, I never really wallow fear for too long.”
But too much of anything is usually hazardous for one’s health. Amongst all the chaos, there is levity. Approached by how there’s balance between all the intensity, co-writer Stuecken mentions, “I think in any movie like this that you need to give the audience a break. If they’re just feeling like something bad’s going to happen every single minute of the film, it becomes too much and you become numbed by it. So I mean, we were so lucky to have such a confident first time director and such great performances that you’re in this bunker for so long, but you want to be there, ‘cause they’re such engaging people, and I think that’s a testament to the work the actors and the director did.” Co-writer Campbell follows up with, “I think to be fair also the actors found stuff that we didn’t always necessarily see in some of the lines, which really elevated them beyond anything we could have hoped.”
Pulling no punches, the end result is on termdous joy-ride that starts of like SAW, ends like I AM LEGEND, while doused with extra terrestrial seasoning. 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is indeed one of the best so far. All the piece needs now are the masses to show up and provide the same love its predecessor received back in 2008. 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE stomps its way into theaters Friday March 11th!
That said, stay safe, people!
As usual, rawdio down below for those who’d like to lend an ear for an extended, unedited event.