Warning: Spoilers Ensue!
Dan Trachtenberg’s directorial debut with 10 Cloverfield Lane has globally mystified audiences this weekend. The spiritual successor to 2008’s Cloverfield landed strong with rave reviews. The third act of the film involves protagonist Michelle (Mary Elizabeth-Winstead) escaping from the bunker to discover that an alien invasion occurred during her struggle. The ending has begun to stir somewhat of a controversy,however, the ending we saw is not necessarily the originally intended ending.
A recent report from Collider reveals that the original ending for the film is somewhat of a shift from the one we got in the finished product:
In the original script, Michelle escapes the shelter and is chased through the farmhouse by Howard, who still wants to "protect" her. She blinds him with bathroom cleaner, he tells her about his tragic life (dead wife, missing daughter, treacherous Nate, etc.), and then she shoots him in the kneecap and runs away. He ends the movie alive, entreating Michelle to "be careful." Later, after traveling down empty roads and finding no one around to help her, she crests a hill and sees the Chicago skyline, smoldering and destroyed. No explanation is given. We don’t even know what she will do next; only that she now knows that Howard, for all his oddity, was correct. The final line in the script is, "She slowly pulls down the mask on the hazmat suit before taking a breath.
The theatrical ending for 10 Cloverfield Lane gives no chance of redemption for John Goodman’s Howard Stambler. After all, he’s psychotic from start to finish so it's only in the vein of cinematic karma that he never makes it out of the bunker in the end. In the original version, Howard predicted the aliens had taken over. It was past traumatic experiences with his family that turned him into a bi-polar person with rage issues. In the theatrical version, it’s ambiguous whether Stambler actually knew about what was happening on the surface.
Compared to the original ending, the finale for 10 Cloverfield Lane is a bit more open. Trachtenberg would go on to admit that reshoots were filmed in order to make a lighter film. It only makes sense that the film went through different stages of evolution before reaching the final cut. It was originally a screenplay entitled The Cellar but was meshed into the Cloverfield universe in the middle of pre-production so of course changes were made. If time went on, who knew how The Cellar would've turned out?
Which ending do you prefer? Did the filmmakers make the right call? If you haven’t seen 10 Cloverfield Lane already, then be sure to check it out in theaters now! Although, you've sort of siphoned the fun out by reading this article.