Now on VOD, Shadow in the Cloud is a genre howler that’s like a souped-up Syfy original, but from back when they’d get Bruce Campbell to star in one, and before they got too megasharknadoed for their own good. The movie’s a vehicle for Chloe Grace Moretz, who plays a rare non-male WWII pilot who’s beleaguered by too many conflicts at once — one of them being an actual gremlin wreaking havoc on a B-17 Flying Fortress. Nifty! Or maybe just silly?
Anyway, the leather case has a breather hole in the corner, which gives us some mogwai vibes, and I swear, when she peeked inside to inspect the contents, it glowed with an inner-glowing type glow like the Pulp Fiction briefcase. The contents are TOP SECRET according to the official letter Maude shows the sexist cretins, who then relegate her to the gunner bubble thing at the bottom of the plane. Right — the turret. No room anywhere else, they say. She stows the precious leather case elsewhere and climbs in. It’s not a horrible place to be, since she’s away from the jerks; on the flipside, it’s awful in its blend of claustrophobic tightness and breathtaking view of a several-thousand-foot plummet. She’s able to communicate with the crew via intercom and headset, all the easier for her to hear the guys’ crass ditherings about her butt and stuff — and all the easier for her to inevitably prove she has more balls than alla deez guys combined.
Performance Worth Watching: Moretz gives one of those righteous, heavily physical Alison Lohman-in-Drag Me to Hell performances in which the female lead clenches her teeth and endures all kinds of lunacy and ends up looking like she was dragged to hell. And back, hopefully.
Memorable Dialogue: Jerks v Maude:
One jerk: “Am I sensing a tone there, Miss Garrett?”
Maude: “That’s correct Captain, I have a tone.”
A different jerk: “Ooh hoo hoo!”
Sex and Skin: None.
Our Take: Is it just me, or are a couple of the visual perspectives on Moretz remarkably similar to a woman at the obstetrician with her feet in the stirrups? Director Roseanne Liang — co-writing with Chronicle and Bright scripter Max Landis — tosses a subtlety or two into this absurd B-thriller, giving it a little flavor beyond its triple-stacked conflict and overt actions-not-words feminist angles. Will Maude show these horny, patronizing dolts who’s got the real right stuff? Of course she will. She’ll also show it to a drooling, toothy creature while dangling off the bottom of a plane that’s taking evasive maneuvers to dodge the ratatats of three enemy zeros. What she has is more than just moxie, baby.
But it takes a minute for Shadow in the Cloud — clunky title; shoulda called it The Friendly Skies or The Thing on the Wing — to get into it. The first act is too much back-and-forth banter between dickheads and our heroine. The second cuts into the battle-of-the-sexes by establishing the existence of the beastie and Maude’s wily survivalist instincts. The third finally gets us revved up with a series of full-batshit situations, the likes of which make us feel somewhat broadsided by a truckful of bananas. In a good way, though, because such outright preposterousness gives Moretz the opportunity to dig in her heels and show some feats of tough-lady badassery.
Beyond that, the movie offers little more than cheep thrillz and a wonderfully and amusingly blatant disregard for the realities of logic and physics. You’ll suspend your disbelief several thousand feet above the ground without a parachute or die trying.
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work at johnserbaatlarge.com or follow him on Twitter: .
Where to stream Shadow in the Cloud