Shadow in the Cloud, 2020.
Directed by Roseanne Liang.
Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Beulah Koale, Taylor John Smith, Callan Mulvey, Benedict Wall, Byron Coll and Joe Witkowsi.
Entrusted with a confidential package World War II pilot Maude Garrett (Chloe Grace Moretz) boards B17 flying fortress The Fool’s Errand. Once in the air something malevolent makes its presence known.
At twenty-three with over seventy credits to her name there is no doubting the work ethic of Chloe Grace Moretz. That she remains consistently diverse, increasingly eclectic and a casting enigma is equally commendable. By combining headlining roles and guest spots on established television shows this actress has always remained one step ahead. With her latest film Shadow in the Cloud, she remains true to form with a left field slice of wartime fun which revels in secrecy.
Written by Max Landis this far-fetched supernatural thriller rests squarely on the shoulders of its star. Limited to a single location and coming in under ninety minutes, director Roseanne Liang concisely employs radio play tactics to create tension. Compounding this by isolating her star early on drama is perpetually ramped up, as audiences experience everything via two-way radio and intrusive close up. Separated from the ensemble, communicating via comms and relying on thin air reaction shots Chloe Grace Moretz is soon in the thick of it. In the first of many narrative segues this World War II reconnaissance mission drifts into Twilight Zone territory without warning. As the significance of Maude Garrett becomes apparent and drip-fed back story adds credence, audiences witness a full-on metamorphosis which levels the playing field.
Elsewhere other characters on this flying fortress are sketched in very broad chauvinistic stereotypical terms, fulfilling no purpose other than to make up the numbers. Amongst them only Taylor John Smith stands out, mainly because his character Walter Quaid is gifted with more than just one dimension. Heroically chiselled yet seemingly ineffectual, he stands alongside Chloe Grace Moretz in full on scenery chewing action hero mode and fights for screen time.
Shadow in the Cloud works hard to embrace its B-movie origins. Bang for your buck rates higher than character beats, pathos or subtlety as all hell breaks loose in the final half. VFX are solid and exposition kept to a minimum as revelations open up numerous opportunities for dramatic expansion. There is genuine drama, unbelievable feats of human endeavour and injuries aplenty while cliches are appropriately tongue in cheek. On this evidence you are reminded that Chloe Grace Moretz possesses some serious action chops, which are not only convincing but dramatically on point.
With minimal dialogue and meandering tonal changes Maude Garrett goes from English rose to battle ready American pilot in no time at all. That audiences stay with her from start to ludicrous finish says much about the star power of an actress who remains consistently underrated. It is because of that central performance that Shadow in the Cloud is far better than it has a right to be. Mixing relationship drama, supernatural shenanigans and some serious female empowerment audiences should be prepared to enjoy every minute of this guilty pleasure.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★