Directed by: Roseanne Liang
Written by: Roseanne Liang, Max Landis
Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Beulah Koale, Callan Mulvey
Country: USA, New Zealand
Running time: 83 mins
BBFC Classification: 15
A World War II and horror mash-up that takes the concept of “there’s something on the wing!” to feature length, Shadow in the Cloud is a claustrophobic, but full throttle B-movie elevated by Chloe Grace Moretz’s dedicated performance and the makers commitment to the pulpy aesthetics of the story.
WW2 pilot Maude (Grace Moretz) blags her way onto an all-male crewed bomber with some seemingly top-secret cargo. Experiencing a wave of misogynistic hostility from the bravado posturing crew, Maude hunkers down in the underside gun turret hoping to make it to her destination. However, along with the not very welcoming crew, she spots something on the outside of the plane, something dangerous that could bring the aircraft down. Realising “the thing” may stop her from getting her cargo to a safe haven she unsuccessfully tries to alert her crew before taking matters into her own hands and fights back, thousands of feet up in the air.
Very much a pulpy short horror story come to life, Shadow in the Cloud is a two-act tale of very different styles. The first half it is all claustrophobic slow burn tension as the film focuses on Maude sequestered to the gun turret and forced to listen to the crew talk toxic of her. She’s gives it back well, defending herself but then also has to try and convince her shitty companions of the danger lurking on the outside of the bomber. All dialogue driven and with the camera firmly placed on Grace Moretz, writer/director Roseanne Liang wrings mounting unease from the scenario, Grace Moretz holding her own and carrying the picture. In fact, she could have held the whole run-time with this set-up, Grace Moretz again showing why she’s one of the best young actors out there.
However, Act 2 takes a (pleasingly) 180 turn morphing into a full blow monster-action movie and fight for survival. It’s no spoiler about what’s on the wing of the plane (all trailers and media pretty much giving it a way!) as the film shifts gear into exhilarating spectacle. It’s a severe tonal shift that will no doubt irk the more-stuffy out there but works as well as the first Act, giving suitable pay-off to the slow burn build up. Sure, credibility is thrown out the window in favour of over-the-top daring do and set-pieces, but it all adds to the B-movie monster action fun. Backed by decent effects and impressive cinematography, Liang orchestrates some great monster mayhem and full-on action.
No doubt a love it or hate it experience, Shadow in the Cloud will divide many but this two-bit reviewer loved it: a fun concoction of genres, pacing and aesthetics. A flick that sings, and sticks, to its own tune (rightly so!), Shadow in the Cloud is a pleasant surprise.
Signature Entertainment presents Shadow in the Cloud on Digital Platforms 31st January and DVD 7th February