I first mentioned the idea of the “Subjective Apocalypse” in my in-class presentation on The Mist—the notion that perhaps the apocalypse is merely community-wide, not international or worldly, but the fact that it’s impossible to say is the intriguing aspect. And it’s the not knowing, that fear of ambivalence, that drives the human race to the point of primal madness. Now, not only is this the case in The Mist (and probably a few other, older end-of-world films) but it’s also displayed beautifully in a quite recent film: 10 Cloverfield Lane.
Going into the movie, I hadn’t seen the alleged prequel, Cloverfield, which indeed is an apocalyptic story, so to anyone who had, that may change his or her opinion on whether or not this film was subjective—but it’s not for me to say because I haven’t seen it. Perhaps that can be addressed in a comment. For the sake of this blog, I’ll pretend this is a stand-alone film. I’ll also do my best not to spoil anything; I’ll only reveal what could be easily gathered from a viewing of the trailer.
Akin to The Mist, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a subjective apocalypse. In fact, it’s so subjective that you may even begin to question whether the apocalypse has occurred at all. A woman finds herself in what appears to be a bomb shelter, along with a big, odd man and another fellow. The big, odd man, played masterfully by John Goodman, insists that the world is over, that the air has become toxic and everyone she (and everyone else) has ever known is dead. And of course, like any good psychological thriller, we’re taken on a roller coaster of “Is he telling the truth?” “Is he a psychopathic axe-murdering kidnapper?” “How far does the straggled hand of this apocalypse reach, if it’s a real hand at all and not a convincing apparition?” “What the f*** is going on here?” We as the audience are left the reigns of this jerky, unpredictable sleigh, to decide what we think is going on, where we think Rudolph is taking us, and of course, in the end, the truth is revealed, but not without the protagonist, this poor young woman, riding the same roller coaster we are, and nearly falling off on multiple occasions along the way. I hope this rivets you as much as it does me. Subjectivity has always been a fickle S.O.B. It drives us as humans to places we would never expect ourselves to be driven to, and this film is no exception. Does that make us crazy, or is that subjective, too?