Trailers, for as much as I love a good binge session of things to come, can often OVER prepare you for a film; showing too many revelations, highlighting too many “a-ha” moments, and building a hype that comes nowhere near the final product’s delivery. There are other times, however, when a trailer does exactly what it sets out to do: hint at a level of badassery that just can’t be contained in a minute and thirty seconds. Shadow in the Cloud falls into that latter category, a marvelous horror-action-period piece mashup that truly redefines those genre’s attempts at delivering an adrenaline-fueled successful actioner that doubles as an empowerment film. One that doesn’t alienate the other side of its audience, all the while being smart enough to not pander to the side its playing to. In essence, it’s everything that DC wanted to do with WW84, and everything it ultimately failed miserably at.
Directed by Roseanne Ling, Shadow in the Cloud follows Maude Garett (Chlow Grace Moretz), a self-professed female pilot with a mysterious and precious secret cargo that makes her way onboard a WWII fighter plane with an all-male crew who are none-too-pleased by the quick addition of their new passenger. While still trying to keep the nature of her cargo secret, Maude is treated to the worst paranoia and untrusting dispositions the crew has to offer. Enter threats both war-time and cryptozoological in nature and it’s a struggle for survival for Maude and the rest of the crew.
Taking a cue from the William Shatner starring episode of The Twilight Zone entitled Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, Shadow in the Cloud is the epitome of horror-action popcorn flick that, quite frankly, we haven’t seen in a long time. Moretz is nothing short of firing on all cylinders every second of this film, from playing troubled stowaway to channeling the very Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley we thought we’d get in more female helmed vehicles like WW84 but have always come up sadly disappointed by. In essence, THIS is the theater experience we deserve right now. THIS is true popcorn faire with more dogfights, in-air spectacle and bare knuckled monster brawling than we could hope for just a week in to the new year.
Suspend disbelief here, much in the same way we used to be able to do with lightsabers, occult archaeologists and enormous man-eating sharks. Let conventional physics take a day off and most importantly, let yourself be thrilled. THIS is what Hollywood used to mean for those of us that believed we could pop a quarter in an arcade in an out-of-the-way trailer park and wake up to saving the universe. THIS is the Hollywood that showed us that heroes come in all shapes, sizes and genders. THIS is the kind of thrill-ride we need right now; the kind of escapism we have come to expect but didn’t find in bullet-proof bracelets and dreamstones. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.