10 Cloverfield Lane has entered your local multiplex under the radar and perhaps under disguise. Following critical acclaim, I was compelled to see it. Not that I knew anything about it - I didn't - and not to spoil anything for you dear reader - I won't - my allure in seeing the film was precisely because it had no presence in the ether of movie buzz. Considering the names associated with it, primarily Cloverfield itself, this seemed too paradoxical to miss.
The best way to watch this movie is exactly how the marketing intended, without any preconceived notions. This is, of course, the best way to experience just about any movie. The give and take between generating interest in a film without negatively affecting an audience's experience is a balancing game few studios are willing to play. BvS: Dawn of Justice, for example, had released so much footage hyping the movie prior to release that it left only a smidgen of surprises for those fanboys who were eagerly anticipating their favorite comic match up. As they were the ones who were likely to see the movie first, write reviews, record vlogs and discuss endlessly about it on forums, the studio's mismanaging of their expectations turned an army of would-be advocates for the movie into an army of haters. In effect, their efforts paid to get people to not see the movie.
10 Cloverfield Lane leans in the opposite direction and is right to do so. It certainly doesn't have a nine figure budget like BvS, warranting studio heads to "play it safe," but The Force Awakens did, yet it managed to create hype without resorting to plot spoilers. In fact, the hiding of the plot of The Force Awakens went very far in creating more buzz for the film. Through this lens, it’s the marketing strategy of BvS that seems paradoxical.
Linking The Force Awakens and 10 Cloverfield Lane is their producer, JJ Abrams. He was also the producer for this movie's namesake, 2008's Cloverfield. If you remember, Cloverfield was shrouded in secrecy before its release. Little was known about it except for its conceit - a found footage Godzilla movie. Again, audiences were able to have a raw experience during the film and it went on to have critical and financial success.
One thing that remained elusive in 2008 was why the film was titled Cloverfield. No character uses the name, no character has the name and there doesn't seem to be a location with the name. Cloverfield itself became a bit of a marketing touch - one more surprise for audiences to unravel. In doing so, a question came to my mind - what should this movie be titled? The movie lacks the kind of hook that necessitates a specific title making Cloverfield just as good as a name as any other featureless noun - it's a placeholder.
In this sense, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a spiritual successor to 2008's Cloverfield, but not a sequel in the conventional sense of the word. Cloverfield is simply a word on the poster that says, "If you enjoyed watching Cloverfield without knowing what you were getting into, you should watch this too." And, to its credit, you should.