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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

‘Shadow in the Cloud’ pays tribute to 1980s aesthetic with high-stakes, horror

Shadow+in+the+Cloud+was+released+in+theaters+for+viewing+on+January%2C+1.
Photo by via imdb.com

“Shadow in the Cloud” was released in theaters for viewing on January, 1.

What’s worse than being stalked by a creature from your nightmares? Being stalked thousands of feet in the air with nowhere to run. Such is the setting of New Zealander Roseanne Liang’s film “Shadow in the Cloud.” Starring Chloë Grace Moretz as Flight Officer Maude Garrett, Garrett is an Air Force pilot and engineer in World War II tasked with escorting a mysterious bag from Auckland, New Zealand, to Samoa aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress. Not only must she contend with a hostile crew and enemy aircraft, but there is also a lurking gremlin slowly tearing the plane apart.
Though set during the years of WWII, “Shadow in the Cloud,” is a film retrospective of the 1980s. While it might seem the use of gremlins is the most obvious example of this because of the popularity of the 1984 film “Gremlins,” which the movie does give a nod to, tales of gremlins have existed for a much longer period of time. As in the movie, their existence was a real superstition among aircraft operators during both world wars where, like the cartoon pilot at the start of “Shadow in the Cloud,” people claimed that the creatures were to blame for things that went wrong aboard their aircrafts. The real influence of the 1980s, however, is most prominent in the film’s score. Composer Mahui Bridgman-Cooper provides the feature with a synth-heavy soundtrack to drive the atmosphere of the film. Audiences familiar with the hit series “Stranger Things” will likely catch how familiar the film’s score is to the Netflix original. Additionally, certain shots in the movie are lit only in a red and green glow, reminiscent of the multicolored neon lights used in dimmer 1980s aesthetics. These help establish part of the film’s purpose as a callback to the era.
“Shadow in the Cloud” consists of two genres, horror and action, and chooses to separate the traits of each instead of mixing them together. The first half of the film is given to the horror genre. While not as frightening as other pure horror flicks, Liang skillfully keeps the suspense high. Garrett, unwelcome on the B-17, is cordoned off in the plane’s Sperry Ball turret, a cramped ball of glass and metal with a full view of the nauseating drop below. The turret itself traditionally allowed for a vast range of movement and visibility, but the close proximity of the camera to Moretz makes these appear extremely limited. Compounded by the darkness of night, and with only a radio to communicate with the other crew members, Maude is isolated from help and must fend for herself against the terrors that attack. When the sun comes up, though, and all the cards are laid out, the tone of the film shifts to one of an action movie. The music picks up, the showdown between the plane and its assailants begins and Maude reveals just how capable she is of completing her mission.
The film also serves as a homage to a company of women who heroically served during WWII known as WASP. WASP, or Women Airforce Service Pilots, were women who trained and volunteered as pilots when the U.S. faced a shortage of men available to do the job. Of them, the Air Force’s commanding general Henry Arnold said, “It is on the record that women can fly as well as men,” countering claims that they were inept. Maude is one of these women, and she faces the same criticism and questioning from her crew that WASP faced as well. She doesn’t let that stop her, though, and neither did her real life counterparts. Maude’s capability and heroism is a salute to the women who for far too long went without recognition and thanks.
“Shadow in the Cloud” is a fun thriller from start to finish. Although the action can be downright unbelievable at times, the film never loses steam, especially if one keeps in mind that it’s not meant to be a realistic historical piece — it has gremlins after all. Instead, the film serves to provide entertainment while paying honor to the past.

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