Madly insane and absolutely wild, how is Shadow in the Cloud real? Starting almost as a WWII radio play – a re-imagined version of The Twilight Zone‘s “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” – the film sets the mood in a gunners cockpit to the sound of bickering male crew members. This interesting, yet claustrophobic framing soon becomes increasingly naive and bizarre, just like everything else in the film.
Originally written by the notorious Max Landis and supposedly heavily re-written by director Roseanne Liang, Shadow in the Cloud is certainly something. It begins quite good, it’s rather riveting and has an interesting mystery to it. Yet, all subtlety or attempt to be actually adequate is thrown out as the madness begins. It becomes extremely sloppy and although it was fun prior, at the point where physics and any sense of logic are thrown into the void, it becomes laughable.
We follow Maude Garrett (Chloë Grace Moretz), a WWII pilot trying to warn her loud-mouth male flight colleagues of an alien bat-like stowaway. Upon take-off, Garrett is forced into the belly of the bomber; her presence is questioned and scrutinized. Mocked and called names like “dolly” and “dame” – as the story progresses, it turns out Garrett is far more masculine than any of the male crew.
A film riddled with predictable and daft turns, Chloë Grace Moretz does a great job with the little she’s given. She is committed right up until the descent into the film’s green screen-to-the-max standard; Moretz forced to scream and shout while hanging off the edge of a bomber is no fun. The introduction’s ongoing radio voices create an almost immersive experience for the first 30 minutes and yet, all that’s fine and built up amounts to extreme schlock and stupidity. Visually, cinematographer Kit Fraser finds no balance to the CGI-heavy back half of the film. It burrows into poorly lit, badly rotoscoped, and awkwardly framed cinematography.
It’s a preposterous, batty, and cheap-looking film that begins strong and amounts to nothing. All is revealed too early and its momentum flutters, at one point Garrett essentially walks upside down on the backside of the plane and that isn’t even the craziest scene. All sustainability is thrown out into the abyss. Shadow in the Cloud is an unthinkable film that begins effectively and descends into a mishmash of infinite ignorance.