3 April 2016

I Think We're Alone Now

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You know how everybody loves surprises? Well a few months ago I was unexpectedly treated to a meal that despite actually being a surprise itself subsequently resulted in a little surprise of its own. It caused me to shit my entire stomach out as a liquid. I took pills to try to calm the constant flow of anal-pissing but this just left me with the opposite problem. I didn't do a single crap for the next eight straight days. I mean, that's not normal, is it? I started to genuinely worry that I was eventually going to expand, contract, and then explode like a dying sun of stink-juice. Shortly after this the world was sucker-punched in the tits by the release of a trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane. "What the fuck is this?!" we all thought. In a world of fat internet nerds with a need for pop-culture gossip to help endure the reload time between tossing off, it's almost impossible to keep things a complete secret. And yet here we are. Eight years on from the release of Cloverfield, some sort of movie had been completely made without anybody suspecting a thing. The real question therefore was what kind of surprise would this new movie be? A nice one like that lovely meal that I was treated to.. or a not-so-nice-one like the next day of being battered to death by the back-door trots?

I should say right now that this film really does benefit from following Schwarzenegger's guidelines for when starting a second family: the less anybody knows the better. There's no way I can waffle on for another few paragraphs without giving too much away, so if you've not seen the film yet then I do hope that you enjoyed my story about having the runs but it's time for you to leave now. As for the rest of you who have hopefully seen the film then I'm sure you'll now be aware of the plot. After crashing her car, Mary Elizabeth Winstead wakes up in John Goodman's snug little basement of nuttiness and is told that the world is fucked. Although based on how fucking huge John Goodman is here, I think if I were her I'd just assume that he's found a new way to spend the rest of his life stuffing his face underground like a fat fucking badger and decided to drag her along for some company. His story seems to be corroborated however by a third bunker dweller, John Gallagher Jr, who recites some of the theories that Goodman has told him as to what's going on outside. There's been an attack that could be nuclear or chemical and has been orchestrated by Russia, Korea, or Martians. Honestly it might sound far fetched, but I find that entire explanation much more believable than the fact that Goodman has managed to resist enough food to stockpile supplies for them to live off.

As well as wondering what kind of surprise this movie would be however, the other question that we all wondered was in how it would connect to the original 2008 film. Initially assuming this new one to be a sequel, we were then told that 10 Cloverfield Lane was actually more of a 'blood relative' to the original than a direct continuation. And by 'blood relative' I think we all know that that's movie slang for 'cash in' than it is anything else. Having now seen this new film, I have to say that is also very definitely the case with the two Cloverfield's having about as much in common with each other as Mother Teresa does to Ron Jeremy's dick. Both films seem to take place in two independent worlds, stylistically they're completely different, they have two distinct tones, a separate cast, and a new director. I mean at the end of the day I'm also a blood relative of my Mum's sister but we have different names and unless I suddenly pop eleven children out of my genitals to avoid getting a job, it's not like we're in any way similar. The script was originally entitled The Cellar and it was only mid-way through production that re-writes occurred to attempt to justify its place in a franchise. Even the cast didn't have a clue that they were making a Cloverfield film until a few days before the trailer went online. Although to be fair if I was a Hollywood bigwig, I'd always avoid telling actors that they're actually part of a major franchise just to keep there pay-cheques as low as possible. At the end of the day, films are expensive to make, catering doesn't work for free, and your cast includes John fucking Goodman.

However if we now start to take the idea of a Cloverfield film as being an anthology, a series of independent stories with an element of sci-fi and horror, then that's actually kind of exciting. If it works then somebody's basically come up with a way of tricking the sheep-like and moronic public into seeing actual original movies without even realising it. John Carpenter actually tried to do something similar with Halloween 3: Season Of The Witch before seeing the un-justly crappy returns and resorted to panic-buying his William Shatner masks for the fourth instalment. Plus at the end of the day is there really anything that new that you could really do for a proper sequel to the first movie? I mean, who doesn't like porn, but I'm not just going to just watch the same film from a different angle?! Unless of course that angle focuses less on the guys fucking deformed monster-cock. Considering the lack of male sex-worker knob shots in the first Cloverfield, I feel that the only change they could make there would be to add more to it and who really wants that? In which case I'm completely up for the idea of a kind of cinematic version of The Twilight Zone but minus the failed stunts, decapitations, and genuine child deaths that plagued that actual cinematic version of The Twilight Zone.

Ironically and beyond its concept as part of a franchise, 10 Cloverfield Lane does actually feel like a contemporary take on a movie length adaptation of what could be an episode of The Twilight Zone. It's mostly set in the one location, deals with the same mix of genres, and also happens to have some degree of political subtext to it. Cloverfield came out in 2008 when Bush was about to leave the White House and obviously played off our post-9/11 fears. In case you missed them, it was the 'unseen enemy' coupled with all of those massive skyscrapers being knocked the fuck down. This new film has come out as Obama is about to leave office, and in a year in which Donald Trump is attempting to enter it. As such, this film deals with our fear of having a stupid fat bully lock us up behind his walls to protect us from an "outside fear" that may or may not exist. Interestingly though, the film is ambiguous enough that whatever your political views happen to be is probably what you'll see the story as justifying. You could view Goodman's character as the lesser of two evils with his brutal tactics being essential to survival, or you could see him as a metaphor for the Nanny State, an authoritative figure that oppressively forces everybody to do as they're told. In this case, Winstead's character would represent the opposing libertarian that would rather have the freedom to face the situation directly rather than bury her head quite literally in the ground. Fuck it though, I'm not American so Goodman's character just represented your average boss to me. It doesn't matter how well you do a job as long as you're prepared to be bollocked for doing it wrong regardless.

Speaking of which, it should also be pointed out that although this is very definitely Winstead's movie, and she is brilliant in it, the real show stopping performance is from everybodies favourite eclipse, John Goodman. Despite being clearly off his tits on madness, he manages to Barton Fink his way through the movie by being endearingly pathetic and yet intimidatingly bat-shit crazy. I mean this is a man that's gone to the trouble of building a fallout bunker in case of the apocalypse and has then fucked it up by including a game of Monopoly in it. I've been close to my friends for years now and I've banned us from playing that bastard game because we almost never made it through the last time without need of a fucking councillor. I swear to god that at one point one of my chums said to another “I'm sure we can come to some sort of arrangement” with such a sense of desperation in his voice that we all knew he was offering sexual favours. Including that game in a bunker where everybody has to get along is not the actions of a completely well man. At one point, the group starts reminiscing about the things they wish they'd done before being trapped to which Goodman is asked if he wishes he'd ever been to Las Vegas. They then wonder why he gets mad without realising that, as anybody that's seen that crappy Flintsones sequel will know, that it's probably pretty fucking obvious that he's glad he hasn't.

Goodman however brings a lot of baggage to any role that he plays and I don't just mean his love-handles. He's got to be one of the most likeable actors out there and so even when he's clearly nuts, you kind of want to believe him and do as he says because he's John Goodman. Oh and I've only been making all of the fat jokes because they're easy to do and he's not actually fat any more. If you Google pictures of him, then like Vin Diesel's car franchise, he has quite literally lost a human's worth of weight between filming this and its premier. I do genuinely think he's great. That's not to say that the other two actors aren't worthy of mentioning either however, as in all honesty everything about this film is way better than it needed to be. Not only is it genuinely thrilling but it's tense to the point that my arse had clamped down on the cinema chair like a fucking bulldog clip. It bears some similarities to 2011's brilliant Take Shelter and as its opening Psycho-like fleeing scene suggests, there's definitely an overall Hitchcockian vibe going on throughout too. I mean, sure, it's only been a few months since Room came out but I guess these kinds of things are like busses. You wait ages for one film about a woman from the cast of Scott Pilgrim being chained up in a threatening mans bunker under mysterious circumstances and then suddenly two come along at once. But when they're as good as this then who can complain?!
As far as surprises go, 10 Cloverfield Lane is very definitely the delicious meal over the following days birthing of a chocolate loaf. I kind of think that calling it Cloverfield and being cryptic as to its relationship with the original is more of a marketing ploy than an artistic decision, however as cash-ins go I have to say that I do think this has to be one of the few that's actually better than the product that's coattails are being ridden. If the only way to get more people into seeing this kind of smaller film and therefore encouraging more to be made is to trick people into thinking they're seeing something else then fuck it, I'm up for that. In which case I look forward to re-releases of Transformers: The Crying Game, The Fast And Furious: Shame, and The Lord Of The Rings: Brokeback Mountain. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.



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