Full of great acting, chills and dark humour, Klaverveldlaan 10 is a nice confection of an action thriller, but that’s about it nothing dealing with the giant monster rampage movie Clover field. If you think that’s a spoiler, then you’ve been scammed by an outrageously misleading marketing campaign.
Klaverveldlaan 10 producer JJ Abrams has teased this film by calling it a “blood relative” of Clover field. Ad campaigns have suggested it is a sequel or perhaps set in the same universe. And if you really squint or bend your mind to pretzels, Klaverveldlaan 10 could be connected Clover field. I mean, it takes place on the same planet. It is a scary movie with speculative elements. But by that logic Zoom is a Clover field TV series and Godzilla is a Clover field continuation.
The fact is, if this movie had been called Cowabunga Lane 10no one would have wondered, “Wait, does this have to do with Clover field?” And while some will no doubt find a way to argue that Klaverveldlaan 10 could be a sequel… come on. Occam’s razor, folks. This is a movie shaped by an advertising campaign. Even Abrams has admitted that the Clover field The idea of a tie-in hit them about halfway through pre-production on a movie that was supposed to be called The basement.
The fact that I can’t even review this fine movie without mentioning a movie that has nothing to do with it is just one of the many reasons I’m annoyed by the whole “we’re secretly having a Clover field movie” campaign. It’s insulting to the movie and insulting to the audience, and I say that as a kaiju fan who absolutely loved Clover field. No one wanted Clovie more than me, but if you go Klaverveldlaan 10 hoping for more Clovie, you’ll get grumpy – and you won’t appreciate this film on its own terms.
With all that Clover field marketing baggage out of the way, let’s see (without spoilers) what Klaverveldlaan 10 is real. First and foremost, it’s an incredibly clever genre mashup, a true Neapolitan ice cream of a thriller that combines suspense, action, and even a touch of science fiction. Fleeing her troubled marriage, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is driving on a quiet road through southern farmland when she is hit by a car. She wakes up in a contrived underground bunker with Howard (John Goodman, in fine shape) and Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), who tell her that there has been some kind of attack and that everyone is dying. Howard is a conspiracy nut who preppers and rambles about Russian technology and Martians, while Emmett is a sweet but naive contractor who seems willing to go along with anything Howard says.
Michelle isn’t sure what to think of her rescuers. Are they telling the truth about the attack? Why is Howard so uptight and creepy? Panicked and suspicious, she tries to unravel the mysteries of the two men and what is happening outside. The fantastic acting is what really carries this movie, which keeps a close eye on the three characters as they go from tense to almost friendly, forming fragile alliances in a situation that gets more and more bizarre as the movie progresses. There’s plenty of quirky humor to ease the tension, and director Dan Trachtenberg manages to keep the pace high despite the story’s literal limitations.
While there was a chance here to get to know our characters quite well and even care about them, they remain sympathetic but aloof. The few personal revelations we hear from each of them feel somewhat rote (a missed opportunity, a sad childhood), but they firmly establish each character to make this movie much more than saw Lite. When Michelle and Howard match up, it’s a joy to watch, and every scare felt like it was deserved.
As their confinement continues, Michelle begins to hear noises above the bunker that sound like engines. Howard’s behavior becomes even more erratic. It all builds to a surprise ending that I thought made it all worth it. Usually I’m wary of surprises – often they are used to justify lazy filmmaking – but this one worked. Best of all, it doesn’t really come out of nowhere. Once you’ve seen the whole movie, you can look back and see all the hints that suggested what was about to happen.
Other elements of the movie feel a bit predictable, especially the interactions between the characters. But in general Klaverveldlaan 10 was a delightful ride, full of funny scary bits and actors that are interesting to watch.
Ultimately the biggest problem with Klaverveldlaan 10 was the sham of a marketing campaign. We get enough sequels and prequels and reboots already. Why pretend this movie is connected to a major franchise if it isn’t? Don’t go see this movie because you want another movie that’s just like anything else you’ve seen. Go see it because it isn’t.