Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Plot: A female WWII pilot traveling with top secret documents on a B-17 Flying Fortress encounters an evil presence on board the flight.
Full disclosure: I sat at my laptop with my fingers hovering on the keyboard for a full ten minutes trying to find the right words to review this movie. It’s not that there’s anything overly complicated here, it’s just that Shadow in the Cloud has so many different things going on at the same time, I’m not exactly sure what the point of it all was.
First things first, all I knew about this movie going in (I try to avoid trailers) is it starred Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass/Let Me In/Carrie) in the lead role and she’d be going up against a gremlin. Not the mischievous monsters Joe Dante brought us, but the “original” creatures who supposedly cause havoc for pilots by screwing with their planes until they crashed. So more like the ones that freaked out pre-Captain Kirk in that Twilight Zone episode. So I figured this would be a straight up action/thriller, woman vs monster sort of thing. While I did get that, I also somehow watched a movie about female empowerment, masculine toxicity and the ability to climb on the outside of a plane while hanging upside down and being shot at by Japanese bombers. It’s a weird movie, is what I’m saying.
I’ve seen a lot of negative reviews for this film and I’m pretty sure I know why and who they’re coming from. The first act of this movie strangely chooses to stick Mortez’s character in the bottom of the plane by herself where she’s forced to listen to her all male crew describe exactly what they would like to do to her and what they think of her. Now I get that she’s a woman in an era where men basically thought all we were capable of was keeping house and making babies, but the entire run of dialogue felt forced and I cringed, not because of what they were saying, but because it felt like someone had lit up the words “MEN SUCK” in big bright neon lights and held it up on the screen.
I’m not saying stuff like this didn’t happen back then, and sadly even now, (there also racism here too because the co-pilot isn’t white and because the writer REALLY wants you to hate these guys for some reason) but there’s a way to do this without it feeling so damn preachy, and this ain’t it. Ultimately we would then have our scene where the heroine does something badass and the men acknowledge her achievement (because it’s not praiseworthy if the men don’t do that right?). And there’s another moment between Chloe and the gremlin where instead of just showing us what she’s capable of, she literally says the words “You don’t know what I’m capable of.” This kind of handholding always makes me groan out loud and it shows the writer and director don’t think you’ll be smart enough to catch these things yourself. How many times do we have to go over this people? Show, don’t tell!!!
Thank goodness for Chloe Grace Moretz though, because she’s the best thing in this film (and strangely the only actor we spend any real time with). Her performance somehow holds the insanity together, so even when stuff happened that had me yelling ” SERIOUSLY?! HOW DID SHE SURVIVE THAT?!” at the screen, I just shrugged it off and moved on. The directing here is also tight and for the most part well-paced. With the exception of that tedious first act, the movie does manage to pick up some speed and the final act was a crazy fun-filled ride. Again, Mortez is the glue holding this mishmash of ideas together, but even with her strong leading role, you’ll be doing a lot of eye-rolling whenever those “message” moments come a-knockin’.
So like the gremlin that’s terrorizing this crew, Shadow in the Cloud is a chaotic mix of ideas, where some of it works (I dug the old school B-movie vibe they were going for) and some of it will make you wish they gave an actual gremlin a copy of the script to tear apart before this ever got made.
Sommer’s Score: 5 out of 10
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
Double Tap Baby!