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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Shipping Out

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) on IMDb

Plot Overview

The camera pans some landmark bridges of New Orleans, with a tugboat plying the waters. It comes into an apartment through a screen, past some sketches of clothing and a portrait of a smiling couple. To some suspenseful back­ground music, we watch the woman in the portrait as she packs in a hurry. She takes her sewing kit with her but leaves the wine, her keys, and her engagement ring. She drives off arriving in the environs of Lake Charles, LA. A phone message from her ex-fiancé Ben (voice of Bradley Cooper) pleads for her to return. He says all couples fight, no big deal. It probably wasn't that big of a deal, but we'll learn later she had a troubled child­hood, and then there's the matter of having lived so far apart they may not have known each other all that well. The suspense­ful music hints that Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Win­stead) is about to get bigger problems.

There's a distant flash of light. The radio informs of rolling blackouts on the southern seaboard. There's a flash of head­lights, her car crashes, and she blacks out. She awakens secured to a bed in a sparsely furnished concrete room, an IV drip in her arm. She tries to make a panicked phone call but her phone displays a "no service" message wherever she is. Her host Howard (John Goodman) tells her, “You need fluids; you were in shock.” When she asks to leave, he drops the bad news on her: “There is nowhere to go, Michelle. There's been an attack, a big one.” Where are they? “Under­neath my farm house. … Luckily I prepared for this. Every­one outside of here is dead.”

He gives her a tour of the place (“It's a bunker”) and she meets the other occupant a younger man Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) who'd helped Howard construct the bunker. Emmett summarizes the situation saying, “Howard's like a black belt in conspiracy theory.” Howard views himself as a magnanimous host in this his Dooms­day bunker, Michelle has a darker take (“Howard abducted me. He drove me off the road and dragged me here”), but Emmett knows the out­side disaster is real (“like some­thing you read about in the Bible.”)

From there is developed a standard lifeboat scenario: a few survivors in it for the long haul, shark-infested and dangerous waters out­side the boat, and a commandeering "captain" (ex-Navy man Howard) who makes the tough decisions like who gets in and who gets left out for the sake of the rest. There is a rumor of an earlier occupant Howard's "daughter" Megan who is no longer around, but her clothes fit Michelle, especially the T-shirt that sports the slogan, “Paris, Je T'aime.” Students of history will recognize a double entendre here, Helen's abduction by Paris having sparked the Trojan War with its infamous Trojan Horse and the derived saying, “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” Michelle[n] has a lot of fight in her and she's good with her hands having aspired to be a fashion designer. Hauling her into his bunker might not have been Howard's smartest move, there being lots of raw materials for her to work with in there.


A chance remark of Howard's, “Crazy is building your ark after the flood has already come”, makes this story a misaligned reenactment of Noah and his ark. In 10CL Howard's daughter figure Megan or Brittany—it's unclear what the mystery girl's name really was—takes on a great deal of importance to the plot. Who­ever she was she would not have been Howard's natural off­spring as he was disinclined to produce any. In the Genesis account of the Flood, is another mystery woman, the mother of Ham. (Gen. 6:10) “And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” Let's look again at Noah's story (Jasher 5:14-17):

“And the Lord said unto Noah, Take unto thee a wife, and beget children, for I have seen thee righteous before me in this generation. And thou shalt raise up seed, and thy children with thee, in the midst of the earth; and Noah went and took a wife, and he chose Naamah the daughter of Enoch, and she was five hundred and eighty years old. And Noah was four hundred and ninety-eight years old, when he took Naamah for a wife. And Naamah conceived and bare a son, and he called his name Japheth, saying, God has enlarged me in the earth; and she conceived again and bare a son, and he called his name Shem, saying, God has made me a remnant, to raise up seed in the midst of the earth.”

Shem and Japheth were full brothers, Ham was born at a later date (the youngest, see Gen. 9:24) perhaps from a different mother. Noah's wife was older than he was. Perhaps at 580+ years she was no longer able to bear children after the first two. She didn't have any more after the flood, even though it was a time to repopulate the Earth. Maybe she stopped bearing before the flood. Ham would then be step­brother of the other two.

Researcher Mark DeWayne Combs posits that, “Although Jasher specific­ally references the births of Japheth and Shem, there is no such reference to the birth of Ham. … that Ham may have been much younger than his brothers and that he may have had a different mother” (389). (See my review of “Project Almanac” for a fuller explanation.) Combs also observes, “Fathering a child, particularly a son, through a hand­maiden or servant girl would not have been an uncommon or forbidden practice in that time period” (165). Historian Kenneth M. Stampp remarks that “Apologists for slavery traced the history of servitude back to the dawn of civilization and showed that it had always existed in some form until their own day” (14).

We have no record of the mother of Ham, we don't even know her name, just that there's evidence she existed as perhaps a servant girl. What happened to her? We don't know, just that she didn't make it onto the ark. In 10CL we don't know what happened to Howard's daughter figure either, but we do have Ben's earlier observation that “all couples fight.” Howard could only be pushed so far, and we reckon that "Megan" stepped over some line. It doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to figure out that Noah's wife and his servant girl mistress had some kind of falling out and he had to choose.

As an anecdotal curiosity consider this episode in Noah's selection process of taking aboard only submissive critters: (Jasher 6:4-7) “And Noah went and seated himself by the door of the ark, and of all flesh that crouched before him, he brought into the ark, and all that stood before him he left upon earth. And a lioness came, with her two whelps, male and female, and the three crouched before Noah, and the two whelps rose up against the lioness and smote her, and made her flee from her place, and she went away, and they returned to their places, and crouched upon the earth before Noah. And the lioness ran away, and stood in the place of the lions. And Noah saw this, and wondered greatly, and he rose and took the two whelps, and brought them into the ark.”

After the Flood there was an incident, Gen. 9:20-22, where Noah got drunk on wine and was exposed in all his glory to his son Ham who brazenly viewed him so. Noah's other two sons, Shem and Japheth, covered him up, Gen. 9:23. Ham had violated him in some way, Gen. 9:24. Noah's curse puts Ham's youngest son Canaan in a position of servitude, Gen. 9:25. Noah's other two sons Shem, Gen. 9:26, and Japheth, Gen. 9:27, were blessed by Noah. Canaan in Ham's line was probably singled out for mention because of the Canaanites' later dealings with the Semitic Israelites. More germane to modern times is perhaps the lineage of Cush. Cush was also a son of Ham (Gen. 10:6), settling in Africa. Cush is Hebrew meaning black. Researcher Bodie Hodge confirms that “As a general trend, Ham is the father of many peoples in Africa” (122). Dr. Ide adds, “Ham sired four sons: Cush (translates as ‘black’) … and Canaan the youngest” (62).

In 10CL the plot ends up likewise revolving on a covering. Michelle the budding fashion designer wants to sew together a biohazard suit so they can send out a scout. Emmett is with her on this, but Howard is not. Howard wants to wait at least two years to let the environment settle down.

On the outside the radio announces a segregation: Survivors are invited to head to Baton Rouge, and people with military or medical experience to Houston. Same as Noah's world after the Flood, the two sons who were proactive were integrated into the blessing (Gen. 9:24) as were the medical workers and combatants here, and the passive survivors Howard and Ham were sent to a separate place.

Production Values

This movie, “” (2016) was directed by Dan Trachtenberg, his first. It was written by Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken, and Damien Chazelle. It stars John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr. Their acting performances are top-notch, absolutely fantastic. John Goodman brings with him a sense of gravity in a strong performance that keeps the story moving. Mary Elizabeth Winstead's strong performance pulls off her role as the main character. John Gallagher Jr. does a decent job, as well. “10 Clover­field Lane” is not so much a sequel to “Cloverfield” as it is a franchise film. We have to wait for further episodes to see how or if these two are tied together.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for thematic material including frightening sequences of threat with some violence, and brief language. It's a Hitch­cockian-style mystery combining heart-racing tension and impeccable aesthetics. Jeff Cutter used some great cinema­tographic devices to show­case the cramped bunker environment. The very decent cinema­tography is complemented by rich sound editing. The scenes are well crafted from start to finish.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This movie packs a punch. I'd say it gives a satisfying viewing experience while deviating from expected story line when it changes setting. The allusions to biblical apocalyptic scope and the ark story give a Christian some meat to ponder, but that doesn't inter­fere with enjoyment of the story itself. Room is left for more sequels.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Don't watch this movie alone. Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Combs, Mark DeWayne. End the Beginning. USA: Splinter in the Mind's Eye Pub., 2014. Print.

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.

Ide, Arthur Frederick. Noah & the Ark: The Influence of Sex, Homo­phobia and Hetero­sexism in the Flood Story and its Writing. Las Colinas: Monument Press, 1992. Print.

The Book of Jasher. Trans­lated from the Hebrew into English (1840). Photo litho­graphic reprint of exact edition published by J.H. Parry & Co., Salt Lake City: 1887. Muskogee, OK: Artisan Pub., 1988. Print, WEB.

Stampp, Kenneth M., Professor of American History at the University of California (Berkeley).
   The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South. Vintage Books, 1955. Print.