Shadow In The Cloud Review TIFF 2020

The Plot

On an ominous night in the midst of World War 2 a female soldier hitches a ride on a supposedly routine cargo delivery aboard a flying fortress bomber plane. She’s charged with protecting a deeply mysterious top secret package. Flying through the stormy night and largely confined to a perilously positioned gunner’s turret, she discovers with growing dread that they are not alone in the skies. With enemy fighters and another mysterious ‘passenger’ putting the safety of the crew and her mission in constant mortal danger.

The Good

The film owes a great deal to a rich legacy of fantasy horror. Borrowing most obviously and explicitly form The Twilight Zone and Gremlins. It perfectly executes genre clichés in ways that are equally original and memorable. It’s a perfect combination of the creeping paranoia and lurid sensational thrills of the very best action packed pulp fiction. The film swiftly proves it self to be a worthy new addition to the best genre classics.

Much like the wildly nostalgic and popular Stranger Things, this film oozes a quintessentially 80’s aura of stylish magical mayhem. A brooding and then blistering paced electronic soundtrack injects a modern sense of urgency into an iconic period setting and elevates the film’s dizzying action sequences into even greater heights of excitement. It’s angry, anarchic and cool in the most timeless ways.

The film looks memorably distinctive, thanks to vintage cinematography drenched constantly in shadows and saturated neon colours. It gives a lurid nightmarish quality to a unique setting that is by turns horrifically claustrophobic and stomach churningly exposed to the vast dangers of being 30,000 feet from the safety of solid ground. Those fearing that the film will rely on the low budget horror tactic of keeping action restrained exclusively to an obviously modest sized set will be shocked by just how effectively the film breaks free of those confines.

Chloe Moretz has a proven track record of genuinely shocking audiences with performances which routinely juxtapose her youthful pretty features with graphic visceral action. This performance further enshrines her status as the true successor to genre icons such as Sigourney Weaver. Moretz’s surprisingly stoic and shockingly unstoppable flight officer heroine deals with every form of horrifying aerial adversity imaginable with virtually superhuman awesomeness.

It’s difficult to avoid noticing the countless parallels between Moretz character and Weaver’s career defining role as Ripley in the Aliens saga. She’s a lone voice of seemingly unbreakable feminine wisdom facing up to all sorts of monsters with unflinching bravery and an impressively furious determination to survive.

Moretz commands the screen during its painfully tense moments and carries it joyfully into insane action sequences that would undoubtedly promote shrieks of laughter and wild cheers of approval from any packed cinema audience.

For anyone who utterly adores Stranger Things this film will be yet another delightfully well received flight of fantasy horror. Action packed and effortlessly cool it is a wildly fun embodiment of the true spirit of ‘Midnight Madness’, TIFF’s weird and wonderful iconic late night cinema dreamland.

The Bad

While the film will be a giddy delight for many, admittedly some will find the film’s most outlandish action sequences to be a little too implausibly silly. Having moved with a slow and convincingly menacing pace the film suddenly explodes into frankly cartoonish levels of mayhem that defies the law of physic in perhaps a few too many obvious ways.

For many this uninhibited abandonment of any sense of reality may ask a bit too much of their imaginations and sacrifice the film’s early tension in favour of more generic super-hero fair. Those hoping for the film to lurch into even darker  and more claustrophobic directions will perhaps be a little disappointed to see it pull back from horror chills in favour of more cheerful fantasy adventure.

The film nosedives unashamedly into a series of unexpected plot twists and undeniably bonkers set pieces. Those wildly weird manoeuvres may be a little too extreme for some with a more sober sensibility. Those embarking on this quite literal flight of fantasy should be warned that it will certainly catapult them into some very crazy places. You may need to hang on tight to your suspension of disbelief during the film’s most insanely turbulent twists.

The Ugly Truth

Shadow In The Clouds is an instant cult classic, pulsing with a brooding soundtrack, clever visuals and unashamedly joyous performances from a cast fully committed to delivering buckets of schlock B-Movie delights. It further enshrines Chloe Moretz as an unlikely but indisputable action superstar. Overall it’s a gritty and gleeful piece of guilty pleasure genre escapism destined to leave audiences woozy and wonder-struck.

Review by Russell Nelson

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