Home » ‘Shadow in the Cloud’ Review – How is This a Real Film? | TIFF 2020

‘Shadow in the Cloud’ Review – How is This a Real Film? | TIFF 2020

by Ben Rolph

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.

Chloë Grace Moretz in ‘Shadow in the Cloud’ courtesy of TIFF

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.


Cloud in the Shadow premiered at TIFF 2020 and has been acquired by Vertical Entertainment!

Follow senior film critic Ben Rolph on Twitter: @THEDCTVSHOW

1 comment

Bob January 2, 2021 || 2:39 am - 2:39 am

I agree with the most parts of this review. The first part of the movie was the better part and I felt the “macho”-talking was somewhat exaggerated but I would not call this movie cheap looking. I reckon it was made with a small budget but the creature effect were very good and I feel the overall look of the movie didn’t bother me.
Chloe was awesome and really did her best with what she had to work with but at the end of the movie she really felt like a super-powered person. That was a shame.


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