10 Cloverfield Lane is an outright smash. Critics loved it (including yours truly), and audiences absolutely adored it-- awarding the contained thriller nearly four times its production budget at the box office thus far. Quality aside, one of the biggest reasons for Lane's success arguably lies in its cryptic connection to Cloverfield, a link which was drummed up by the film's marketing in an attempt to make viewers ask "how could this movie be related to that other one?" Without delving into spoilers, the answer found at the ending of Lane was: "tangentially, at best". Indeed, the movie wasn't originally written as a sequel to the 2008 found-footage monster flick from which it derives its name, and its cast wasn't even aware of the connection until after shooting had wrapped. All that said, 10 Cloverfield Lane wouldn't be the first sequel that diverged greatly from its predecessor. Let's take a look back at some other examples of this odd phenomena from throughout recent history:
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
Season of the Witch, despite ostensibly being the third installment in the Halloween series, is about as weird a departure from the formula as one could possibly imagine. Gone are Michael Myers, Laurie Strode and any of the characters or settings viewers might expect. In their place is a bizarre sci-fi fantasy that revolves around a young woman who begins investigating a shady novelties company after her father is found half-mad clutching one of their signature Jack O’Lantern masks. What follows is a bizarre blend of conspiracy-theory thriller and Grimms’ fairy tale, as the girl uncovers a vast plot to turn children into killing machines on Halloween night using masks controlled via computer chip.
U.S. Marshalls (1998)
In 1995's The Fugitive Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) is falsely accused of murdering his wife, and followed to the ends of the earth by dogged, stubborn U.S. Marshall Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones). Gerard is played throughout as an impossible stick-in-the-mud with a massive chip on his shoulder. Of course, then, the producers decided to bring back the character for this loosely-related sequel, which pretty much just acts as a soft reboot of Fugitive only with Wesley Snipes instead of Ford.
Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
After the first Blair Witch Project revolutionized the horror genre in 1999 by rejecting the glossy, over-the-top style that defined '90s slashers, movie studio Artisan decided to crank out a sequel for release the very next year. They fired the first film's directors and did away completely with its gritty, cam-corder style, replacing it with an extremely generic aesthetic and a by-the-numbers plot right out of a SyFy channel original. In doing so, they killed what could have been a ongoing franchise and tarnished the original's legacy in one fell swoop.
Jarhead 2: Field of Fire:
2005's Jarhead was a dark, art-y prestige picture about the banality of war and post- traumatic stress. Naturally, then, the film's sequel-- which arrived direct to DVD nearly 10 years later-- was an out-and-out action flick, replete with corny nu-metal music, tons of explosions, and patriotic flag-waving sequences. Surprisingly, Fire sold so well (likely at Redboxes nation wide), that a third Jarhead film saw its release this year.
American Psycho II: All American Girl
It's no shocker that the widely renowned dark-comedy classic American Psycho would earn a sequel. What is surprising, however, is that said sequel would transform a cutting satire of Wall Street excess into a by-the-numbers potboiler. Obviously unable to get brilliant thesp Christian Bale to reprise his iconic role as Patrick Bateman, the producers instead chose to center the story around Bateman's "niece"-- played by not-so-brilliant thesp Mila Kunis.
DISCLAIMER: Though these films all may share a vague similarity with 10 Cloverfield Lane-- and thereby a vague dissimilarity with their filmic predecessors-- there's one big difference: these movies roundly suck, and Lane is damn near brilliant. Go see it now if you haven't already.