SHADOW IN THE CLOUD (2020) Reviews and overview

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Shadow in the Cloud is a 2020 New Zealand action horror film about a female WWII pilot trying to warn her obstinate male comrades of a creepy stowaway.

Directed by Roseanne Liang from a screenplay initially written by controversial writer Max Landis (son of John Landis) but later extensively rewritten by Liang, the movie stars Chloë Grace Moretz (The Addams Family 2019; Suspiria 2018; Greta; Carrie 2013), Nick Robinson, Callan Mulvey and Taylor John Smith.

The soundtrack synth score was composed by Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper (Housebound).

“What’s doubly frustrating about Shadow in the Cloud is that Liang, as a director, is skilled. The end credits montage, which presents real documentary footage of WAAF fliers set to Kate Bush’s iconic “Hound of Love” […] makes me wish that she’d been allowed to do a film about these brave fliers without all of the sci-fi nonsense cribbed from other, better films and the heavy dose of frat boy talk.” Arrow in the Head

“Despite Grace Moretz’s capable lead performance, Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper’s score and excellent direction by Roseanne Liang, the tense and mysterious first half is completely undermined by a clichéd, ridiculous second half that ends the film on a far more conventional and less satisfying note.” Bloody Disgusting

“From its 1980s-inspired synthesized score by Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper to an emphasis on practical creature effects, this is a bananas throwback that skips a slow middle section to head straight into a wild finale which takes place around (and outside) the plane. For some, it may be too bumpy a landing, but for other genre aficionados, it’s a hell of an adrenaline rush they’ll walk away from with a grin.” Den of Geek

“It begins with intrigue, evolves into paranoia and explodes into an absurd action movie. Shadow relentlessly throws Garrett into one impossible situation after another. Lean and ruthlessly efficient, Shadow is a non-stop pressure cooker that’s way more fun than most film festival fare and more thoughtful than most action flicks.” Escape Into Film

” …watching Moretz battle her way against CGI backdrops that never look very convincing only takes the proceedings so far. And while Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper‘s synthy score is a lot of fun it never matches up with the imagery. Some may get a kick out of how over-the-top and pulpy Shadow in the Cloud is, but what’s on display here is so abrasive and so bombastic that it begins to sap the life out of you…” /Film

Shadow in the Cloud is an enjoyable mashup of synth-wave score (by Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper), a good amount of over-the-radio dialogue, minimalistic filmmaking and minimal sets, cheesy action beats aplenty, totally ridiculous but fun twists, obvious yet effective CGI, and Chloë Grace Moretz kicking ass in the lead role.” First Showing

“What at first looks like a stagey showcase for star Chloe Grace Moretz, stuck in a single cramped location while all the drama happens out of sight, explodes mid-movie into — well, into a couple of things, and any pulp-loving genre fan who can accept completely absurd action in the name of a good time should probably just stop reading now and add Shadow to the must-see list.” The Hollywood Reporter

“While it’s impossible to know if it was Landis or Liang who penned lines like “she’s got one of those mouths you could just f*ck,” the film works up enough vivid feminist energy to almost forgive whoever fired off that banger. It’s certainly got enough firepower to prove that Liang and Moretz are more than able to bring this insane feminist adventure in for a smooth landing.” IndieWire

“The majority part of the film is a Chloë Grace Moretz show. Her facial expressions, lines delivered and the performance overall is right on spot. But it is the storyline that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Nail-biting scenes and pure suspense will have your heart racing. […] It offers a hell of a ride, trust me on that, something you would not like to miss.” Let the Movie Move Us

Shadow in the Cloud never takes itself too seriously, and that’s part of its charm.  Liang also injects a healthy dose of feminism into her film, right down to its final scene. So my advice, leave your logic (and even physics for that matter!) at the door and strap in for a hell of a lot of fun.” Live for Film

“Instead of relying on layer after layer of big-budget technological gimmicks, Liang craftily employs the anxiety of claustrophobia to amplify the feeling of incoming danger. Senses are heightened as even the quietest of noises triggers paralysing dread. When the special effects finally hit, it’s hyperbolic bliss – more is more is more.” One Room with a View

” …it’s like a fake movie in a Judd Apatow movie, an illustration of the crassness of mainstream filmmaking and the double-standards of those who make a very good living at it. This is an excruciatingly stupid movie, and the nicest thing I can say about it is that, at 83 minutes, at least it’s over quickly.” The Playlist

“There’s little doubt, as well, that the appropriately brisk running time goes a long way towards cementing Shadow in the Cloud‘s palpable success, while the instantly-iconic climax ensures that the picture ends on as positive a note as one could possibly envision – with the end result a stirring, unabashedly pulpy piece of work that provides Moretz with the meatiest role of her career.” Reel Film Reviews

” …basically the Nightmare at 30,000 Feet episode of The Twilight Zone blended with Aliens, and parts of it are exactly as fun as that elevator pitch sounds. This is some goofy, wacky storytelling, and most of it works, coming in at a stealthy 82 minutes to wow you with impossible action sequences and send you on your way.”

Shadow trades visceral plausibility for rousing exaggeration in its final act and pulls it off, as Liang keeps the pacing brisk over the tight 75-minutes-plus-credits running time. And while it appears at one point like the monster might be sidelined in favor of the human drama, anyone familiar with the form will know not to count it out…” Rue Morgue

” …while the film doesn’t quite deliver the requisite scares to fully engage with mainstream genre fans, Liang’s evocative sense of period and oppressive build of tension should attract attention. The film channels its budget into the areas where it is most needed by keeping the locations to a minimum.” Screen Daily

Shadow in the Cloud has some notable strengths to it, such as an exceptional synth score, one of the first truly grown-up performances by former child actor Chloë Grace Moretz, and a plot that counteracts misogyny within the military. However, after a quite well-executed first half, quite reminiscent of a certain Twilight Zone episode, the film moves into a very hyper-stylized climax that throws all sense of realism out the window.” Sean Kelly on Movies

Moretz does such a great job leading the film and conveying smaller emotional beats within a strong, scrappy character. She is the only component linking the silly plot points together besides forwarding momentum. When the movie itself tries to manoeuvre through quieter moments, it just feels inert.” Tilt

“An enjoyable, if slightly schizophrenic and occasionally heavy-handed film…” Voices from the Balcony

Vertical Entertainment and Redbox Entertainment acquired Shadow in the Cloud for around $5 million to acquire the North American distribution rights.

In a press release, Peter Jarowey, CEO of Vertical Entertainment, and Galen Smith, CEO of Redbox, released the following statement about the deal: “Shadow in the Cloud is a captivating film with mesmerizing visual effects. Roseanne Liang’s distinct vision and Chloe Grace Moretz’s knock-out performance are guaranteed to bring audiences to the edge of their seats. We’re thrilled to be partnering with the amazing female-led filmmaking team and Endeavor Content to bring this film to North American audiences next year.”

Writer-director Roseanne Liang added: “I’m over the moon, on cloud nine with a song in my heart and a smile on my face. I couldn’t be more excited to partner with the teams at Vertical Entertainment and Redbox Entertainment to bring our film to North American screens. This project has weathered more than its fair share of challenges, but its success is due to the army of artists and technicians who poured their love and faith into 83 minutes of heart, fun and engaging spectacle. I can’t wait for everyone to experience Flight Officer Garrett’s ascension.”

Cast and characters:
Chloë Grace Moretz … Maude Garrett
Nick Robinson … Beckell
Callan Mulvey … Captain Reeves
Taylor John Smith … Quaid
Beulah Koale … Williams
Joe Witkowski … Bradley Finch
Byron Coll … Taggart
Benedict Wall … Tommy Dorn

Filming locations:
Auckland, New Zealand

Technical details:
83 minutes

Teaser, trailer and clips:

YouTube review(s):

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

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