Spitting in the face of spoiler culture, last night Bad Robot and J.J. Abrams dropped the trailer for “10 Cloverfield Lane,” managing to pull off what might be the biggest Mystery Box™ of all time. You can head over here to read Drew McWeeny”s take on this project directed by Dan Trachtenberg. But the important takeaway is this bit:
“The idea came up a long time ago during production. We wanted to make it a blood relative of Cloverfield. The idea was developed over time. We wanted to hold back the title for as long as possible.”
I”ve already seen people bandying about the idea that this is the beginning of the Cloverfield Cinematic Universe. Opinions on if this is a good idea or not vary, but if you were a nerd with an Internet connection and a passing interest in “Cloverfield” in 2007 this seems like the most natural progression in the world. Let me explain.
In the months leading up to “Cloverfield” an extensive ARG (Alternate Reality Game) left a trail of breadcrumbs about the internal lore of this universe that was deep and delicious. So much so that fans were disappointed when nearly none of it mattered – or even came up – in the finished film. But perhaps Bad Robot was merely laying the groundwork for future installments. Here”s a quick primer on the important players in the “Cloverfield” universe.
#1: Tagruato Company
Back in 1945, Tagruato Company was founded as a mining company with drilling operations in southern Japan. The company continued to expand until the 1980s when a series of scandals rocked the company and the founder – Kantaro Tagruato – committed suicide.
In the wake of this disaster, Tagruato was bought by Ganu Yoshida who was specifically looking for a company to head his international offshore drilling operation. Remember his name, will be returning to him shortly.
Then in 2007, a Tagruato employee claimed the company had found an “amazing discovery.” Days later, the employee and his entire family were found dead due to a gas explosion. Later that year, the Chaui drilling station opening the mid-Atlantic, off the coast of New York City.
#2: T.I.D.O. Wave
The new station was the last straw for environmentalists of T.I.D.O. Wave. The guerrilla group had previously hacked into Tagruato”s website to display how damaging the company was to the world”s oceans. The T.I.D.O. Wave website is still operational On it you can see them denounce the products sold by Tagruato subsidiary Slusho (more on that in a second). The “event” mentioned was a secret mission to infiltrate the Chaui station and uncover whatever Tagruato was up to. It didn”t go well.
The video diaries of T.I.D.O. Wave activist Teddy”s girlfriend are still accessible with the password: jllovesth. To save time, HitFix has linked all her excerpt together below. In it you can see her slowly become unglued based on whatever substance Teddy smuggled to her from the Chaui site.
When Teddy went missing, his sister Alyse Hanssen set up a blog to chronicle her search. When the Chaui station was destroyed, Tagruato Company blamed T.I.D.O. Wave for the destruction though T.I.D.O. representative claim both that the Chaui station was destroyed before their rescue op for Teddy got there AND that there was never any oil to begin with.
A subsidiary of Tagruato Company and one of the most popular series of drinks in the world. Slusho! products can be seen throughout “Cloverfield” in the background. With the slogan “You Can”t Drink Just Six!,” it is designed to be consumed in mass, addictive quantities. The website is still active and includes a suspiciously saccharine origin story:
But tragedy struck for [Ganu Yoshida”s mother]! Noriko set off on a sea adventure to find the greatest, most tastiest ingredient in the world, and was never heard from again!
She left behind her only son, Ganu! Manu also liked to experiment, but not with the beverage-making enterprise that killed his mother, but for science!
One fateful day, he and his teammates discovered a deep sea ingredient unique to anything else!!! While the team pondered the miraculous ways to use it, Ganu had the best idea of all!! […] He echoed he would make his mother”s dream live – to make the tastiest drink, unlike anything on earth! Because the ingredient was discovered on the deep ocean floor, under amazing pressure and in the most extreme cold, Ganu knew he had to serve the ingredient in a near-frozen state to preserve its freshness!!
T.I.D.O. Wave believed Slusho! to be dangerous and that Ganu”s wealth had bought off FDA approval. The video of Teddy”s girlfriend appears to confirm this.
Armed with this knowledge, let”s look at the official synopsis for “10 Cloverfield Lane.” From an “Valencia” description:
The majority of the movie takes place in an underground cellar, and revolves around a young woman who wakes up in the cellar after a severe car accident and fears she has been abducted. Her captor, a doomsday prepper, tells her he saved her life and that there has been a terrible chemical attack that has left the outside uninhabitable. She does not know what to believe and as tensions rise, she decides she must escape, regardless of the terrors that await outside.
Bad Robot says “10 Cloverfield Lane” is a blood relative of “Cloverfield.” A horrible car accident and a chemical attack are an interesting premise on their own. But couple it with the knowledge the Tagruato Company was feeding the populace an unstable substance they mined from the bottom of the ocean – one that angered a baby monster – and things get more interesting. Is this movie dealing with the fallout of Slusho! saturation? Is John Goodman”s character REALLY a doomsday prepper or part of T.I.D.O. Wave?
I certainly hope so! It”d be a damn shame for Bad Robot to have spent years setting up such in-depth lore only to ignore it when setting the balls in motion for a shared cinematic universe.
“10 Cloverfield Lane” arrives in theaters on March 11, 2016.