'Shadow In The Cloud' Review
Set the scene in year 1943 and meet Flight Officer Maude Garrett (Chloë Grace Moretz) who boards a military bomber flying from New Zealand to Samoa, carrying luggage which she states is top secret and needs to be taken to Samoa by her. Rest of the crew are all men and Garrett immediately starts to get comments and questions ranging from awkwardly cringey to crudely misogynistic, except from one Walter Quaid (Taylor John Smith) who offers to keep the bag safe as she needs to crawl into the plane's tight ball turret since there's not much room otherwise. Some time after takeoff, she spots an ominous creature but is responded with disbelief by the guys then and again later when she reports a Japanese plane. The title Shadow In The Cloud comes from that as the crew doesn't believe them to be anything other than shadows, until the flight takes a twisted turn that leaves them fighting for their lives.
A lot of things about the premise and how it's executed scream good debut feature material, and though it turns out that it is the director Roseanne Liang's sophomore effort actually, the point still somewhat stands because you can see how this would be a calling card for bigger projects in the future for her. The movie after all plays in the war action band, sprinkling in horror aspects here and there so that the budget wouldn't undercut the demands of a war film too much. It's barely 70 minutes of storytelling and that's a good decision here from Liang as you can definitely see her focus on the performance of Moretz, minimal visual effects and finding interesting angles with cinematographer Kit Fraser to highlight the terrifying position of Garrett, to be the driving elements of ''Shadow''.
Still, there's a disconnection between the writing and money behind the film. Some helpful things are the musical score from Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper which helps it separate from other WW2 action stuff, few pretty gnarly kills and rotating camera moves during action sequences. During those action sequences however, you can sort of feel how they were designed to be more epic but the VFX and stunt choreography aren't quite refined, considering too that we don't know much about Garrett's abilities beforehand. Those issues are also present in the last couple scenes of the film, the daylight wasn't doing any favours so the movie doesn't quite stick its landing. Much of the dialogue doesn't reveal itself to be fruitful either since we learn more about the men's attitudes than we learn about our main character or her relationships, maybe that's why you don't care enough about her when the downward spiral begins.
Frowneys: Ending, dialogue
Don't want to give a spoiler because you barely know her.