Question: Who is more likely to say the following?
“I am always watching – always – I see what you’re doing – I know what you’re doing”
a/ Santa Claus?
b/ Old Testament God?
6/ Psychopathic, doomsday captor?
Answer: Definitely not Santa Claus.
The other two are always watching…
Beneath 10 Cloverfield Lane, a psychopathic, doomsday captor (Dan Goodman) increasingly becomes comparable to the Old Testament God and so a re-working of Eden soon emerges. Viewed as a neo-biblical allegory, 10 Cloverfield Lane’s bunker becomes the Garden of Eden, Michelle becomes Eve and Emmet becomes Adam. Howard is God.
“Of every tree of the garden you are free to eat; but as for the tree of knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat of it; for as soon as you eat of it, you shall die.” Genesis 2:16
Howard makes it clear; the earth is a no-go area. Should Michelle or Emmett leave, they will die. They must obey him; he has supplied them with everything they need. “You build your ark after the flood has come!” Howard mocks modern people in the film. But Howard is no Noah. Howard is God.
Should Michelle or Emmett question what is true and begin to seek knowledge for themselves, they will suffer under Howard/God. Michelle and Emmett are not just physically confined but morally confined; they have no right to question Howard and no right to leave. Like Adam and Eve, they are told that they have everything they need. And Howard has brought Michelle and Emmett together.
“It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a fitting helper for him.” Genesis: 2:18
And so Howard drove Michelle off the road…rather than steal one of Emmett’s ribs.
In the bible, Adam and Eve’s nakedness is a metaphor for ignorance.
“The two of them were naked and yet felt no shame.” Genesis: 2:19
Similarly, Michelle and Emmett are ignorant regarding the full extent of the apocalypse above them, and also ignorant to Howard’s psychopathic past. Adam and Eve too were completely oblivious to what God was capable of should they cross him.
Eden as Science Fiction
Zecharia Sitchin’s theory that ancient astronauts cloned humans in the Garden of Eden (a laboratory separated off from the rest of primitive earth) suggests that the Old Testament God was actually an interventionist God, rather than the creator God.
“You are trying to insult me in a shelter I built to save your life.” Howard
Howard too is an interventionist; he intervenes with Michelle’s fate (and indirectly with Emmett’s fate) and they find shelter in the bunker. Sitchin asserts that Eden was a laboratory (E.DIN: Sumerian for Abode of the Gods) protecting Adam and Eve from other threats/life forms. Therefore, Sitchin’s version of God tells the truth to Adam and Eve about the risk of leaving Eden, just like Howard.
The Serpent and The Apple
In all versions of the Eden tale, the serpent arrives. It is no different for 10 Cloverfield Lane. How did it get in? It was let in with Michelle. Her intuition is the true serpentine search for knowledge. From the start, Michelle is suspicious of Howard’s narrative. She simply does not believe what God is telling her. Her inner voice is snaking away inside her, searching for the fruit of knowledge.
“When the woman saw that the tree was good for eating and a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable as a source of wisdom, she took of its fruit and ate.” Genesis: 3:6
And so Michelle steals Howard’s keys, both literally and symbolically, to seek the truth for herself. And she finds truth. Before Michelle’s eyes is a zombie-esque woman begging to be let into the bunker.
The Gnostic Serpent
For Gnostics, the serpent is a symbol of Sophia wisdom that is trying to awaken Adam and Eve from a malevolent demiurge; a creator God who created the physical universe to entrap divine spirit. Even in Genesis, the serpent is accepted to be of the tree of knowledge…
“You are not going to die but God knows that as soon as you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like divine beings who know of good and bad.” Genesis: 3:4
In the case of 10 Cloverfield Lane, it is the need for clean air (from mother earth) which is the external instigator of knowledge coming in. Michelle has to crawl through the air-filtration tunnels to fix the system and, once there, finds a clue to Howard’s psychopathic and murderous past.
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they perceived that they were naked; and they sewed together fig leaves and made themselves loincloths” Genesis: 3:7
God is being found out. Michelle tells Emmett about her new found knowledge. Michelle uses her stitching skills but it’s not fig leaves she stitches together, but a shower curtain in the form of a bio-hazard suit to protect from the toxic air outside. This is her escape route, but only one of them can go and so the Eden myth is subverted again; Adam and Eve are to be separated.
Howard discovers their secret escape plan. Emmett accepts the blame, making an excuse up by claiming he felt inferior to Howard.
“I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” Adam says to God, Genesis 3:12
Howard shoots Emmett and dissolves him in perchloric acid. God does not just punish Adam but kills him.
“For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19
Michelle’s serpentine instinct is proven to be right all along. Unfortunately for Michelle, the binary pairing of male and female in Eden remains; now Howard is the male to her female. He even shaves off his beard to become Adam-like creating the creepiest image of the whole film. The biblical allegory is finally re-written when a feminist Eve, in the form of Michelle, breaks free from the dystopian garden of hell.
Michelle uses her newly-formed feminist skin that no ‘God’ could give her. Eve needs no patriarchal God. Nor does she need an un-awakened Adam. Instead she leaves Eden to find true abundance in the arms of mother earth having learnt to fight for it. Michelle finds herself on the path of a feminist and Gnostic individuation. The fight against the all-pervading toxic semen of the aliens continues. This is now just the beginning…