Chloë Grace Moretz (Kickass) plays a female WWII pilot on a secret mission who must contend with an evil gremlin attempting to dismantle her B-17 in mid-air in Shadow in the Cloud, a horror/action film that debuted at the Toronto International’s Film Festival in September, and is now coming to VOD on New Year’s Day. Based on the trailer, it looks like a mashup of Gremlins meets Snakes on a Plane, with some over-the-top Vin Diesel-style action tossed in for good measure.
Set in 1943, the film had a somewhat rocky road on the way to completion. Max Landis—creator of the BBC’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, based on the Douglas Adams novels, and son of Director John Landis—penned the original draft script, and relative newcomer Roseanne Liang was hired to direct. Then Landis was accused of sexual and emotional abuse by eight women and dropped from the project. (In a since-deleted tweet, Director Josh Trank, who worked with Landis on the 2012 low budget superhero movie, Chronicle, said he believed the accusations and had even banned Landis from the set during Chronicle‘s principal photography.)
Liang overhauled the script herself, punching up the female empowerment angle while still maintaining the horror/action thriller sensibility. The film premiered at a Toronto drive-in, and proved hugely popular with festival attendees, even winning the People’s Choice Award for Midnight Madness. (It already holds a 74 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.) All that buzz led to a distribution deal with Vertical Entertainment and Redbox Entertainment, purportedly worth about $5 million—apparently the first “drive-in theater movie” to be so acquired, per Deadline Hollywood.
Moretz plays Women’s Auxiliary Air Force Captain Maude Garrett, a tough-as-nails fighter pilot on a secret mission to deliver a mysterious highly classified package. She travels aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress dubbed “The Fool’s Errand,” and is almost immediately the target of jokes and sexist slurs from her male cohorts. She gets stuck with Sperry, or ball turret, duty, but clearly she’s up to that task. More worrying than Japanese fighter planes is an evil presence—a gremlin—that threatens to tear the plane apart in mid-air.
Shadow in the Cloud premieres on video on demand on January 1, 2021. The trailer certainly makes the film look like solid, high-octane fun, even including a sly nod to the classic Twilight Zone episode, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” Writing for Variety, Peter Debruge offered high praise, declaring it an “insanely entertaining high-altitude horror movie,” while while acknowledging that the film “parts ways with credibility altogether.” It might be just the ticket for a lazy New Year’s Day.
Listing image by YouTube/ONE Media