Is '10 Cloverfield Lane' A 'Cloverfield' Sequel? The J.J. Abrams Follow-Up Remains A Mystery

Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, and John Gallagher, Jr. live alone in a secluded bunker, or perhaps a fallout shelter. They occupy their time with board games, puzzles, and watching videos on cassette, as "I Think We're Alone Now," a chipper '60s tune by Tommy James & the Shondells, plays over the background of trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane. But their upbeat bliss quickly sours; the backing track skips and the complacent peace in the bunker turns to horror and violence. 10 Cloverfield Lane marks the welcome, though surprise (the trailer dropped two weeks ago with no warning), follow-up to 2008's Cloverfield — the low-budget monster-thriller masterpiece from J.J. Abrams. Cloverfield took place in a New York City under siege from a bloodthirsty monster, but early looks at 10 Cloverfield Lane — well, it's not entirely clear what threat the film poses, though it's definitely there. So is 10 Cloverfield Lane a Cloverfield sequel, or something else entirely?

The two films share more than just a name: 10 Cloverfield Lane has relaunched the original viral marketing campaign from Cloverfield , featuring a website from the mysterious corporation Tagruato, a drilling company whose New York station was destroyed just before the monster sets loose upon Manhattan, according to io9. But from the look of the trailer, the similarities might end in their promotion. Cloverfield concludes (spoilers ahead!) with the presumed deaths of its main characters. And with them, the found-footage that forms the backbone of Cloverfield goes dark. The three individuals at the heart of 10 Cloverfield Lane are entirely new characters, so a direct sequel to the narrative of the 2008 film seems unlikely. Still, that doesn't mean that 10 Cloverfield Lane will stand entirely alone.

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10 Cloverfield Lane went by the codename Valencia in its early stages, according to a press release from late 2014. (Before that, it was tentatively titled The Cellar — but that was before Abrams got involved.) According to the brief synopsis released in those early days, the plot centers on Winstead's character, who is kidnapped to an underground bunker after a car accident. Her captor (Goodman) tells her the world beyond their shelter has been ravaged by a chemical attack, rendering it uninhabitable. But — as seen in the trailer — Winstead isn't sure whether to believe him, and she attempts to escape. 10 Cloverfield Lane doesn't seem to share any characters with Cloverfield, but might it be possible that the threat beyond the bunker is actually the same menace that leveled New York in the original film? We still don't know how a monster capable of taking down the Statue of Liberty found its way to New York.

Abrams told Collider that he has been circling around the concept for the upcoming film for a while, and that it will be a "blood relative" of Cloverfield — meaning he's still not telling us anything. The film's three stars haven't revealed much more, either. Winstead appeared at the Entertainment Weekly SAG Award party and briefly discussed her upcoming flick. "There is this veil of secrecy to it from the very beginning," she said, according to EW , adding of Abrams that "there are no secrets coming out of that guy." But with only three characters, it's a claustrophobically close thriller, rather than the expansive, city-wide odyssey of the original film.

Io9 hypothesized that 10 Cloverfield Lane might be the next installment of an anthology series, like an American Horror Story for the big screen — first film explores the monster-destroys-metropolis trope, the second the chemical-warfare-wreaks-havoc one. All this is to say, we really have no idea what this movie will yield. Does "blood relative" mean it will inhabit the same universe? Will there be references to the events of Cloverfield? And what does Tagruato have to do with it all? The cast and filmmakers aren't revealing anything (and if it's an anthology-like series, perhaps even 10 Cloverfield Lane won't answer all the questions) — so we may have to wait for March 11 for the mystery to begin to unravel.

Images: Paramount Pictures (2)