★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Prepare for a big dose of fun, and a very cool-looking monster, in this creature feature/action movie mash-up about a young female officer on a danger-filled mission.
Directed by Roseanne Liang
Women’s Auxiliary Flight Officer Garrett (Chloë Grace Moretz) boards a B-17 bomber “The Fool’s Errand” during World War II with a broken arm, a no-nonsense attitude, orders from high up, and a mysterious, top-secret package that needs to be kept upright at all times in Shadow in the Cloud. She is met with derision and suspicion by the otherwise all-male crew and told to stay in the ball turret while one crew member promises to take care of the package.
She overhears the flight crew making crude remarks about her, and when an actual gremlin begins attacking the plane and only she can see it, she wisely keeps mum about it — until she makes a decision that causes the crew to question what is happening. They trust her even less once she announces that she sees enemy Japanese planes headed for The Fool’s Errand — that is, until she successfully fends one off.
Things get wild from here on out; suffice it to say that Shadow in the Cloud goes into the realms of the absurd and preposterous in absolutely fun ways, and that the aforementioned gremlin is one big reason why. The impressively realized creature may get the second-most screen time next to Moretz, which should make creature feature fans quite happy, especially because the design of this winged bringer of evil is pretty cool.
Much of the first act of the film sees Moretz in the ball turret, with her character reacting to the men speaking over the comms and to the dangers both inside and outside of her small, confined space. The actress does a superb job in these sequences, with the other cast members doing some solid voice acting that helps ramp up the tension. Once things open up beyond that space, Moretz does an admirable job in the action hero department and as an emotionally strong young woman who has just reason to fight and put her life on the line.
Director Roseanne Liang, who shares a cowriting credit with Max Landis, helms Shadow in the Cloud with verve and aplomb. She is obviously a student of genre films and knows how to build suspense, and how far to push willing suspension of disbelief. She has crafted a crackerjack action horror film that entertains wildly. Shadow in the Cloud should bring smiles to the faces of, and should not be missed by, genre movie fans of all stripes, especially creature feature aficionados.
Shadow in the Cloud, from Redbox Entertainment, is available in select theaters and on VOD and Digital from January 1, 2021.