Who knew there was a Palm Springs Film Festival?
In any case, Roseanne Liang distinguished herself there as a “Director To Watch” based on critical reception to her Weird War horror-drama Shadow in the Cloud, currently showing on Hulu.
Set during the waning days of the Second World War, protagonist Maude Garrett (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a plucky pilot who’s managed to fast-talk her way onto a departing B-17, also known as a Flying Fortress, with some top secret cargo.
Maude is an attractive woman, so the male crew wastes no time in bitching about her presence on the plane, that is, when they’re not making lewd suggestions to her over the com-link.
Eventually their suspicions are justified, as Maude proves to be a stowaway with a baby tucked into her carry-on bag. Unfortunately, she’s not the only surprise passenger.
The crew’s original mission of tracking Japanese naval positions comes up now and then, but the real guts of the movie focus on Maude defying gravity in a slugfest with a nasty gremlin, a sabotage-minded creature that’s taken a fancy to her bambino.
Apparently, a top-secret mission wasn’t spicy enough. Let’s throw a monster in the mix! This is always a good idea.
Seriously though, the vertiginous scenes of a kick-ass mom rasslin’ on the wings of an airplane with a savage little monster sent my blood pressure through the ceiling. If you factor in a high-altitude juggling act with a baby stashed in a satchel, it’s practically panic inducing.
At this point in the film’s trajectory, Shadow in the Cloud abandons any pretense of earnest storytelling in favor of white-knuckle action, and I’m okay with that.
Moretz shines bright as Alpha Female on a Plane, protecting her identity, her child, and indeed, most of the sexist dickheads aboard.
All in a day’s work for a single mother with superior survival skills.
Shadow in the Cloud awkwardly jumps a few genre fences but the engine maintains a full head of steam screaming into Thrillsville Station.
I’m going to join with the good citizens of Palm Springs in their enthusiasm for the emerging talents of Roseanne Liang. *Golf clap*