#TIFF20: “SHADOW IN THE CLOUD”
By David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
It is World War II and WAAF officer Maude Garrett (Chloë Grace Moretz) has jumped aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress as a last minute addition. The all-male crew are hesitant to let her stay, but she has orders to fly with them and keep her classified cargo safe. They force her to ride in a ball turret below deck, isolated on her own – and her mind may be playing tricks on her with the things she is seeing in the shadows.
I want to say more, but I fear that would spoil some of the outrageous and preposterous thrills that Co-Writer/Director Roseanne Liang has in store for Moretz and the rest of the crew. Liang plays with genre conventions throughout Shadow in the Cloud’s zippy 83-minute running time, never seeming keen to stay categorized in one box for too long. It morphs wickedly from a white-knuckle claustrophobic Thriller to a full-blown wartime action picture at the drop of a bullet, and then sprinkles in some Horror elements on top for good measure. The CGI is spotty in far too many cases and the genre mashup does not always work as intended (a MacGuffin reveal is a bizarre swing that left me bewildered), but the Film is wildly-entertaining in the many instances when it does.
As long as you prepare for multiple genre swaps, Shadow in the Cloud is quite a bit of fun. While I wish the Film was not being hit with a minor controversy over its writing credits, I feel the bigger disservice is that Covid has robbed us of the experience of seeing Shadow in the Cloud at its proper haunt, Ryerson with a Midnight Madness audience. I know in my bones that they would have eaten this Film up, and I chuckled when it became obvious what and where the reactions might have been. Hopefully, it gets to play to a big crowd like that another day.
Nick Robinson (Love, Simon and Jurassic World) has a blast as a gunner on the ship, but Moretz is the one who takes hold of the screen and never wavers. She is simply marvelous in the scenes in the ball turret, really selling the anguish, fear and determination her character is going through. She is vividly-expressive in these scenes (which take up a substantial portion of the Film’s first half), and she carries them into the absolute chaos of the Film’s second half. Her wonderful balancing act more than makes up for some of the plot contrivances and the minimal character development.
SHADOW IN THE CLOUD screens at TIFF ’20 as follows:
Sat, Sep 12
Visa Skyline Drive-In at CityView
Sun, Sep 13
Online at Bell Digital Cinema