Review: Creature feature 'Shadow In The Cloud' delivers compact thrills
Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment
Chloë Grace Moretz is playing a World War II auxiliary officer in Roseanne Liang's compact monster thriller “Shadow in the Cloud.” It’s a taunt, 82 minute exercise set in 1943 where Moretz’s Maude Garrett has been given orders to join a rag-tag group of flyboys and deliver a confidential package to an undisclosed waypoint. The crew is skeptical at first (it’s 1943 and she is a woman) but the orders are clear, just don’t expect them to call this stowaway Flight Officer Garrett.
Despite impeccable credentials, Captain Reeves (Callan Mulvey) sticks her in the Sperry turret - the spot below a plane where a trained gunner would normally reside. It’s a tight squeeze that forces Garrett to leave her package in the care of Taylor John Smith’s Quaid, the one pilot who isn’t lusting after her.
Stuck below with nothing but a radio to occupy her, Garrett is isolated from the rest of the crew though she can hear every offensive slur they mutter in her absence. When she professes that something (we don’t what) is lurking on the plane, the airmen chalk it up to female hormones and dismiss claims as hysterics. For a minute, it seems that Liang’s film is going to remain a tight, claustrophobic thriller about a strong woman bailing out men, but things quickly take a supernatural turn.
Like a cross between an episode of “The Twilight Zone” meets “Alien,” Garrett begins contending with a large beast clawing its way through her cockpit. An intense, five minute brawl where all resources are exhausted and the flight officer is left bruised and battered. Despite her proof on the matter, the crew above continue mocking what they call “delusions.” They’ll get a lesson in believing soon enough, but not before Liang stages an exhilarating, entirely implausible action sequence that earns merit because we’ve spent time understanding Garrett’s struggles.
“Shadow in the Cloud” is fueled by pure ridiculousness, and whose tight run-time allows for minimal breathing room. Secrets about the crew come to light, a bumping techno soundtrack by Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper blares in the background, and Moretz not only has to battle several toxic men, but a gremlin out for blood. Some of the visual effects (especially in the climax) look painfully unfinished, but it shows how far low budgets can go when you have a committed leading actress and stakes worth believing in. “Shadow in the Cloud” is the stuff all great and pulpy creature features are made of.
SHADOW IN THE CLOUD is now available on VOD and digital platforms.