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The Ending Of 10 Cloverfield Lane Finally Explained

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00:00   |   Jul 18, 2019

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The Ending Of 10 Cloverfield Lane Finally Explained
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  • 10 Cloverfield Lane tells a small story designed to stand on its own, but it's also deceptively
  • full of complex plot twists, potent but understated themes, and a few hidden ties to a larger
  • Cloverfield mythology.
  • Let's unlock this bunker of secrets and explain the ending of 10 Cloverfield Lane.
  • Though they seem to have nothing in common on the surface, a look back at Cloverfield
  • may provide some clues about the aims of 10 Cloverfield Lane.
  • The original movie is about a giant monster's arrival in New York City, but that's just
  • a backdrop to the main drama.
  • Through its found footage conceit, Cloverfield showcases a group of twenty-somethings sending
  • off their friend Rob as he prepares to move to Japan to start a new job.
  • Cloverfield's inventive first-person angle on a classic Godzilla formula makes it an
  • effective thrill ride, but it's the naturalistic depiction of young adults in 2008 America
  • that gives it a surprising amount of weight.
  • In short, it's a giant sci-fi blockbuster interrupting an intimate indie drama about
  • people struggling with regret.
  • Their perspectives are shaken and shaped by unimaginable horror, making their real needs
  • clear for the first time.
  • That brings us to the sequel.
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane introduces us to a heroine in a hurry.
  • In the opening sequence, Michelle is anxiously packing a suitcase, her eyes darting to the
  • stormy horizon outside.
  • Is she desperate to escape a monster invasion?
  • As it turns out, she's fleeing from an ill-fated proposal and ignoring calls from her boyfriend.
  • Leaving behind an engagement ring and taking a bottle of whiskey, she hits the highway
  • out of New Orleans.
  • In the midst of the drama that will soon follow, it might be easy to lose track of just how
  • much is being set up about Michelle's character here.
  • The fashion sketches seen strewn around her apartment, the radio news reports about massive
  • blackouts, and even the bottle of whiskey are all elements that will pay off later.
  • Most importantly, we learn from her boyfriend's call that she has an apparent chronic problem
  • with commitment.
  • It's clear that his words strike a chord with her, as she grows increasingly distracted
  • listening to his voice from behind the wheel.
  • “We had an argument, couples fight.
  • That's no reason to just leave everything behind.
  • Running away isn't going to help."
  • So distracted, in fact, that she's unprepared for the truck that sideswipes her into a violent
  • wreck.
  • Michelle wakes up in a strange cinderblock room that's half grey and half painted pink
  • in some sort of sad attempt at cheerful femininity.
  • She's hooked up to an IV drip and her leg, injured in the crash, is in a brace.
  • But the brace is chained to the wall — someone has saved her life, but is also holding her
  • captive.
  • That someone is Howard Stambler.
  • Howard soon explains that he's taken Michelle into his private underground bunker in the
  • aftermath of some sort of attack.
  • He's fuzzy on the details, muttering theories about everything from Russians to Martians.
  • Howard has known for years that something was coming, though, and has been preparing
  • for this day for years.
  • Michelle's room, we gradually learn, was supposed to be for his daughter, Megan.
  • Why isn't Megan here instead?
  • According to Howard, her mother turned her against him.
  • It's an explanation couched in the disturbingly familiar language of abuse.
  • Before she can come to any conclusions about whether or not she trusts Howard, Michelle
  • becomes aware of a third person in their midst.
  • Emmett is a young man who helped build Howard's bunker and made his way to it as soon as loud
  • sounds and lights in the sky signaled the onslaught of whatever invasion has occurred.
  • Friendly and naïve, Emmett quickly becomes Michelle's ally in solving the bunker's mysteries.
  • It may not be immediately clear, but Emmett serves a few functions in the story.
  • His most obvious purpose is to give Michelle support and someone to talk to as she navigates
  • her situation.
  • He also provides some important exposition, informing Michelle that Howard was always
  • known for his doomsday prepper mentality and eventually sharing an important revelation
  • about a photo that Howard claims is of his daughter, Megan.
  • Most ominously, it's significant that Howard seems to barely tolerate Emmett's presence.
  • Howard's consistent irritation toward Emmett suggests that he has more specific goals with
  • the bunker than saving lives.
  • Unsurprisingly, Michelle remains hesitant to trust the man who chained her to a wall
  • and told her Martians may have attacked.
  • She remains not entirely convinced by his stories, even after he brings her to the bunker's
  • heavy, locked door to show her a pair of mutilated pigs outside, as evidence of what the air
  • itself will do to anyone who breathes it.
  • So, at the first opportunity, she bashes him in the head, grabs his keys, and makes a break
  • for the door.
  • But before she can open it, she's met by a woman begging to be let in, screaming and
  • desperate as the skin seemingly melts from her face.
  • Fully convinced that the air outside is indeed dangerous, Michelle resigns herself to remaining
  • in the bunker.
  • The decision is made easier by a seemingly softened attitude from Howard, who talks her
  • through the process of stitching up the head injury she caused while sharing stories about
  • his time in the Navy.
  • They soon enough move on from the disturbing death they've witnessed, but the memory lingers
  • over the film until the very end.
  • As the only two people who can relate to each other, Michelle and Emmett naturally end up
  • sharing stories about their lives before the bunker.
  • They talk about tattoos they've always wanted, with Emmett saying that he would've gotten
  • plenty if he'd known that the "attack" was going to happen.
  • When asked if he has any regrets, Howard replies:
  • "Everything I wanted to do, I did.
  • I focused on being prepared, and I was.
  • And here we are."
  • Later, after the occurrence with the woman at the door, Emmett tries to comfort Michelle
  • by assuring her that there was nothing she could've done to help.
  • This brings up more talk of regrets — Michelle is haunted by the time she saw a little girl
  • being abused by her father and did nothing to help, while Emmett's life was changed when
  • a lack of confidence stopped him from getting on a bus to start college at Louisiana Tech.
  • Michelle and Emmett settle in for life with Howard, though the peace remains uneasy.
  • In a particularly uncomfortable game night, Howard fails to associate the word "woman"
  • with Michelle, struggling with words like "girl" and "princess."
  • It's a disturbing indication of how much he's infantilized her.
  • The tension comes to a head when Michelle, tasked with crawling through the bunker's
  • vents to fix an air filter, discovers a window to the outside into which someone has scratched
  • the word "HELP."
  • Nearby, she finds a bloody earring, which she recognizes from Howard's photo of Megan.
  • But when she shows the picture to Emmett, he recognizes the girl not as Megan, but as
  • a classmate of his little sister's who disappeared from the area some time back.
  • Regardless of how correct he might be about the dangers outside, it's now clear to Michelle
  • and Emmett how dangerous Howard is.
  • He's been using the bunker to hold young women captive in a deluded attempt to replace his
  • daughter — and Michelle is next.
  • Michelle has a plan.
  • She envisions a makeshift hazmat suit constructed from the bunker's shower curtain and various
  • household items.
  • She and Emmett begin assembling the materials while evading Howard's notice.
  • Unfortunately, it doesn't work for long, and Howard calls the two of them to help him move
  • a barrel.
  • Inside the barrel is an acid capable of dissolving human bodies down to the bone.
  • Howard makes it clear that he knows that Michelle and Emmett are up to something, and that if
  • they don't confess, they'll end up in the barrel.
  • Emmett accepts all responsibility for the plan, and Howard accepts his apology by calmly
  • shooting him in the head.
  • Howard insists to a shocked Michelle that, like everything else, he's done this to protect
  • her.
  • Soon after, he undergoes some sort of bizarre Dad Transformation, appearing clean-shaven
  • and neatly-dressed for the first time as he offers Michelle ice cream.
  • The uneasy tension of his demeanor has been replaced by an even more terrifying sense
  • of total, unchallenged delusion.
  • But Michelle's real call to action comes in a silent scene that finds her going through
  • Emmett's belongings and finding the bus tickets to Louisiana Tech he'd been holding onto for
  • all these years.
  • Her resolve is bolstered.
  • With the uncertainty of the world outside, leaving the bunker is less about saving her
  • own life than it is about not letting regret define her death.
  • The film's climax kicks off when Howard discovers Michelle's nearly complete hazmat suit, and
  • she narrowly escapes his wrath by momentarily trapping him in her room.
  • When he breaks free and corners her near the perchloric acid, she has no choice but to
  • push a barrel over, starting a fire as soon as the acid hits an electrical outlet.
  • Fleeing through the vents from a burned and furious Howard, Michelle uses the can of liquid
  • nitrogen to break the exit's massive padlock and at last escape.
  • This final flight out of the bunker is fast and intense, but a careful retracing of the
  • movie's plot reveals just how much of it has been set up all along.
  • Michelle has successfully constructed a hazmat suit, thanks to her interest in fashion design
  • that's part of her character from the very beginning.
  • Her knowledge of the ventilation layout is established by the earlier filter repair sequence
  • — one of the film's most intense moments in its own right.
  • And the liquid nitrogen trick was subtly foreshadowed by Howard's casual aside about doing the same
  • thing in the Navy.
  • Michelle has spent her time in captivity learning everything she needed to survive.
  • In the open air of Howard's farm, Michelle briefly panics when a hole tears in her suit.
  • But the sight of birds flocking overhead, unharmed, tips her off that the air may not
  • be as toxic as she believed.
  • Sure enough, she removes her makeshift plastic bottle facemask and can breathe without trouble.
  • But then a horn sounds nearby, alerting her to the presence of an enormous alien craft
  • sailing over the crops.
  • As darkness falls, another ship rises up from behind the house, and an enormous tentacled
  • beast emerges.
  • Michelle takes shelter in Howard's truck, and though the creature lifts it up and nearly
  • devours her, she has one more trick up her sleeve — and it's yet another plot point
  • set up in the movie's earliest scenes.
  • With the bottle of whiskey she took with her when she left home, she fashions a Molotov
  • cocktail that not only burns the alien, but causes a chain reaction with the gases in
  • its body, obliterating the monster in a huge explosion.
  • The most important reason for 10 Cloverfield Lane's surprise final sequence, though, is
  • to bring Michelle's character arc to a significant final moment.
  • She commandeers the car left behind by the woman at the bunker's door, at first following
  • radio instructions for survivors to gather at Baton Rouge.
  • Her escape is interrupted by another radio message:
  • "But if you have any medical training or combat experience, we need help."
  • Silently reflecting on how everything that's happened to her has given her exactly the
  • necessary skills, she turns toward Houston, as stormy skies reveal more ships looming
  • in the distance.
  • The movie ends on this moment of decision, with our heroine barreling toward danger.
  • It's far more than open-ended sequel setup, however.
  • It's the first time Michelle has committed to facing a problem head on instead of running
  • from danger or difficulty.
  • We've watched her go from a scared, uncertain person racked with regret to a decisive, competent
  • hero ready to give herself over to a noble cause.
  • Everything about her time in the bunker, her battle with Howard, and her honesty with Emmett
  • has brought her to this place.
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Description

10 Cloverfield Lane tells a small story designed to stand on its own, but it's also deceptively full of complex plot twists, potent but understated themes, and a few hidden ties to a larger Cloverfield mythology. Let's unlock this bunker of secrets and explain the ending of 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Though they seem to have nothing in common on the surface, a look back at Cloverfield may provide some clues about the aims of 10 Cloverfield Lane. The original movie is about a giant monster's arrival in New York City, but that's just a backdrop to the main drama. Through its found footage conceit, Cloverfield showcases a group of twenty-somethings sending off their friend Rob as he prepares to move to Japan to start a new job.

Cloverfield's inventive first-person angle on a classic Godzilla formula makes it an effective thrill ride, but it's the naturalistic depiction of young adults in 2008 America that gives it a surprising amount of weight. In short, it's a giant sci-fi blockbuster interrupting an intimate indie drama about people struggling with regret. Their perspectives are shaken and shaped by unimaginable horror, making their real needs clear for the first time. That brings us to the sequel.

10 Cloverfield Lane introduces us to a heroine in a hurry. In the opening sequence, Michelle is anxiously packing a suitcase, her eyes darting to the stormy horizon outside. Is she desperate to escape a monster invasion? As it turns out, she's fleeing from an ill-fated proposal and ignoring calls from her boyfriend. Leaving behind an engagement ring and taking a bottle of whiskey, she hits the highway out of New Orleans.

In the midst of the drama that will soon follow, it might be easy to lose track of just how much is being set up about Michelle's character here. The fashion sketches seen strewn around her apartment, the radio news reports about massive blackouts, and even the bottle of whiskey are all elements that will pay off later. Most importantly, we learn from her boyfriend's call that she has an apparent chronic problem with commitment. It's clear that his words strike a chord with her, as she grows increasingly distracted listening to his voice from behind the wheel.

“We had an argument, couples fight. That's no reason to just leave everything behind. Running away isn't going to help."

So distracted, in fact, that she's unprepared for the truck that sideswipes her into a violent wreck.

Watch the video to see more of the ending of 10 Cloverfield Lane finally explained!

The Cloverfield connection | #
Missed calls and crashed cars | #
Howard's hell | #
Bunker buddies | #
The lady at the door | #
Ink and regrets | #
Little girl lost | #
Friendship dissolved | #
Howard's end | #
Alien after all | #
Crossroads | #