Shadow in the Cloud
shadow in the cloud | roseanne liang | max landis | chloe grace moretz | nick robinson | beulah koale | monster | creature | gremlin | action | war | new zealand | united states | taylor john smith | callan mulvey | benedict wall | byron coll | joe witkowski | history
Film: Shadow in the Cloud
Director: Roseanne Liang
Writer: Max Landis and Roseanne Liang
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson and Beulah Koale
This was a movie that intrigued me when I saw that it was coming out. I like period piece horror movies and this one is set during World War II. There is also this interesting aspect of it being a potential creature feature with lore that was used about gremlins and how they would destroy machinery during this era. Plus I’m also a fan of Chloë Grace Moretz as well. This was originally going to be my first horror movie of 2021, but it had a stiff price tag to rent. Now that it has come down, I finally gave it a viewing. The synopsis here is a female WWII pilot traveling with top secret documents on a B-17 Flying Fortress encounters an evil presence on board the flight.
Now the synopsis shies away from there being a creature, but the movie itself doesn’t. We get a cartoon, which turns out to be a real one for the era that explains a bit about the lore. It was believed that there were gremlins that would destroy machinery and the cartoon is explaining that in reality, it was the laziness or the lack of care when doing their work. It is really trying to explain to keep your area clean, take pride in your work and there won’t be any mishaps.
We then learn that we’re on Auckland Air Force Base back in 1943. Maude Garrett (Mortez) has her arm in a sling and is carrying a top secret document. She gets on board of a plane by the name of The Fool’s Errand, which is interesting for how this movie plays out. Her getting on board makes the crew very uncomfortable. I think part of this is her being a woman and the other part is that they were not notified. They do accept it as an important, high ranking officer seemed to have signed off on it. There isn’t a place for her so the top secret package she is carrying is kept in the cockpit with Walter Quaid (Taylor John Smith) and goes down in the Sperry turret underneath the plane.
They take off and Maude can hear all of the chatter from the crew on the communication system. It is through this that she learns who each one is as they talk dirty about her. Stu Beckell (Nick Robinson) is the tail gunner. Anton Williams (Beulah Koale) is the co-pilot, John Reeves (Callan Mulvey) is the pilot, Terrence Taggart (Byron Coll) is the communications officer, Bradley Finch (Joe Witkowski) is the navigator and Tommy Dorn (Benedict Wall) is the worst with his mouth. She shuts them up when she responds to what they’re saying.
Things get worse for her when she thinks she sees a creature on the underside of the wing. She tries to warn them, but no one believes her. Another of the crew sees an enemy plane, which she also sees. It turns out that she is right and she is quite skilled with the turret. Not everything about her though is true. She gets trapped in the Sperry and attacked by the creature. The men don’t trust her and push for the truth. It is hard to believe her when she has lied about some things. When their plane starts to fall apart, is the creature we keep seeing real or lack of proper maintenance catching up with the plane?
That is where I want to leave my recap for this movie as I don’t want to spoil it as this movie is still fairly new. To start breaking it down, I’ll get into what I like for. I’m not surprised to see that a woman directed this. There is a bit of empowering here since we do have Maude who is part of the air force. I wasn’t sure if they were allowed into this branch of the military, but then seeing that they were in New Zealand, I was bit more forgiving since I don’t know all of the history there. From the footage at the end of the movie though, it does seem like they were allowed into the air force in some capacity. This movie really does have a social commentary on misogyny, which makes sense. I do think the movie goes a bit over the top with it, but to be honest, it probably isn’t. It is hard for me to judge as a male since I do not experience it. This movie was set in a different time and let’s be honest, we really haven’t come that far or at least as far as we should. What I will say as a negative here, there is a reveal here that I think sets the character back and I think they could have come up with something better personally.
What I also really like about this movie is the idea of the creature. One of my earliest memories of gremlins is from the classic Gremlins and its sequel. What is interesting is in that movie, Mr. Fudderman brings the lore that this movie has. They are creatures that get in your machines and destroy. In that classic he blames the Japanese for putting them in there, of course. It is also interesting is that I heard a review on Exploding Heads Horror Movie Podcast where they paired this up with the different version of The Twilight Zone episode, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. I can see why they did the pairing as this does seem to borrow at least some from that source. This is something that I wish they would have focused on a bit more.
The last part of the story I want to delve into is Maude geting stuck. She’s told to leave the Sperry, but when she pulls on the handles, they break-off. She does get a bit panicky, which I can’t blame here there. This also seems to be a bit of a plot device. She is trapped down here while the creature is attacking the ship. It does make the focus more on her. The men are only voices that we are hearing. I don’t mind this to an extent actually. I also think it limits what they can do as well.
Where I think I’ll go next would be the acting. As I’ve already been alluding to, this movie is really on the back of Moretz is acting. I think she’s solid here. As I’ve said already, I’m a fan of her in general. She does well here as this strong woman who is attractive enough and deals with all of these men acting like children. Robinson is fine as Beckell. I’d say the rest of the guys are mostly just voices. They do well with making distinct characters which is all I can ask for.
Then really the last thing I want to go into here would be the effects. There were quite a few times that I could tell they were using green screen. It is what it is as it would be tough to do this practical so I’m forgiving there. The creature for the most part is fine. Another thing that doesn’t look great, but I like its design. My biggest issue is there is something that happens here where Maude is moving around underneath the plane while it is moving. I don’t believe it could happen as it does here. It is going a bit slower as it is losing altitude. I’m not up on the physics or if it is possible, but I don’t buy it at this time and it took me out of the movie.
In conclusion here, this movie has a really good premise and I like the set that we get here. Moretz is solid enough actress to carry this movie with the misogynistic men there holding her back. I even like the reveal of the creature and what becomes a major part of the tension. My problem is that what they focus on for this movie hurts it. It also seems to be setting back women with some of these reveals later in the movie. The effects though are solid enough, but I don’t know if I buy the climax personally. The soundtrack is fine where the sound design I would say is actually really good as well. Overall I would say this is just over average for me due to the things I have issues with. A few different things though and they could have had something really good here in my opinion.
My Rating: 6 out of 10