The creature-feature Shadow in the Cloud pays bizarre tribute to the bravery of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force during World War II.
It is 8 August 1943 and Flight Officer Maude Garrett (Chloe Grace Moretz) arrives at Auckland Allied Air Base. Her arm is in a sling, and she’s carting a brown leather bag. A bomber is about to take off on a mission and she clambers aboard at the last moment creating quite a hullabaloo. Most of the seven men already aboard order her off the plane immediately. But she’s carrying official papers, so the captain reluctantly allows her to stay. She is dispatched to strap in underneath the plane in the gun turret.
She doesn’t want to let go of her package but it won’t fit into the small space with her. One of the crew promises to keep it safe for her. Once entrenched in her cramped quarters, Garrett puts on headphones and overhears the men’s conversation, which is heavily laced with sexual references about her. Then she spots a shadow in the navigation lights that looks like an animal. Before long we find out it’s an ugly-looking rat/bat like creature with fangs and a long tail. At the same time, the aircraft is coming under fire from the Japanese. But the crew’s troubles, not to mention Garrett’s, have only just begun.
Shadow in the Cloud is far-fetched. In fact, it gets more preposterous the longer it goes. The filmmakers, led by director Roseanne Liang, have adopted a sledgehammer approach to the material, and the dialogue is cliched. But to its credit, it maintains tension throughout.
Chloe Grace Moretz does the best she can with the material she’s been given. The other performances tend to struggle.
In short then, Shadow in the Cloud is pure pulp.
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Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.