Dir: Roseanne Liang (15, 73 mins)
Shadow in the Cloud is a completely ludicrous and thoroughly entertaining action film that borrows heavily from Twilight Zone and Amazing Stories episodes. Chloe Grace Moretz plays Maude Garret: a female flight officer who bluffs her way onto a B-17 Flying Fortress plane named Fool’s Errand as it leaves on a mission from Auckland during World War II. She carries a mysterious package with her in a holdall and has to suffer the indignities thrown at her by an all-male flight crew whose misogyny is not kept in check. They’re a ragtag crew made up of jocks and Scots with one indigenous pilot, played by Beulah Koale, and Taylor John Smith’s rather more caring Quaid.
Moretz is at first consigned to a gun turret – a mini cockpit underneath the bomber – where she spots something on the wing of the plane: a literal gremlin. William Shatner spotted one on the wing of a passenger plane in The Twilight Zone, as did John Lithgow in the film remake, while Joe Dante’s Gremlins mentions them through war veteran Dick Miller’s eyes. They were superstitious ways of explaining away faults on planes, the notion that they might crash having been ‘sabotaged’ by beasts – which in this case is the literal truth. The B-17 also finds itself under attack from a squad of Japanese fighter planes, and Moretz’s reasons for looking after her mystery package gain clarity after the opening half hour. This opening section focuses solely on Moretz and works brilliantly as she listens to the abuse on her intercom, shows her resilience and fighting skills and gets claustrophobically trapped in the hatch.
Events soon get even crazier, as she has to climb outside the plane, upside down, to rescue her package, as fighters strafe the craft with bullets and her fellow flight crew realise the gremlin is very real. Director Liang and cowriter Max Landis go all-out for the action and embrace the absurdity. There’s even a climatic fist fight, in a ditch of sorts, between Moretz and the gremlin, straight out of the action movie playbook. Allow yourself to go along for the B-movie ride and this is brisk, vastly entertaining stuff with Moretz consolidating her action and emotive chops, channelling Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley.
Streaming now via Amazon Prime
words KEIRON SELF
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