[Note: After learning some new information, we’ve provided some updates to this post.]
10 Cloverfield Lane did not begin as a Cloverfield sequel or anything remotely related to the 2008 smash hit. It started as a small movie from Portal fan film director Dan Trachtenberg with the working title Valencia. This was the plot synopsis we reported in April 2014:
“The majority of the movie takes place in an underground cellar, home to a teenage girl and a caretaker. The girl woke up in the cellar after a car accident, at which point her eerie companion tells her a nuclear attack has devastated society. The girl still hopes to escape.”
That’s pretty similar to the finished film, and although Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character isn’t a teenager, she still wants to escape, especially because the caretaker, Howard (John Goodman), is creepy and dangerous.
[Spoilers ahead for 10 Cloverfield Lane]
The Film Stage outlined major changes between the finished film and the script. They state that the basic premise—girl wakes up in an underground shelter after a man says there’s been an attack outside, and there’s also a third guy with them. When it comes to the ending, here’s how they breakdown the differences:
The movie ends with something out of the farmhouse scene in Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, with Michelle escaping from Howard and getting outside of the shelter, only to find that aliens have invaded and are hunting people. She must outwit a worm-like attack dog and then do exactly what Tom Cruise did in War of the Worlds, introducing an explosive device into a biological looking orifice on an alien craft to escape from its massive tentacles. Then, after all of this, she embarks to Houston to kick some alien ass, in a “the battle is over, let’s fight the war” kind of ending cribbed from Battle: Los Angeles. In the last shot, flashes of lightning reveal alien ships in the distance, indicating the film-long struggle we just witnessed is comparatively minuscule.