Horror stretches across many genres, and you can’t always know in advance how horror-y a film is, so with Shadow in the Cloud we are in war-action-horror territory, in that order. Maude Garrett arrives at an about-to-takeoff B-17 in 1943, presenting papers to the crew that let her and her top secret cargo onboard. The men are abusive and dismiss her to the gunner’s position beneath the plane, separating her from her mysterious bag. When Japanese fighters attack, and a creature clinging to the outside of the plane starts pulling it apart, Maude has to escape and somehow get herself and her precious cargo to safety.
Okay, there’s no escaping it—the first half is an unpleasant exercise in controlled misogyny, with our lead Maude stuck in an enclosed space having to listen to the crew on the radio say horrible and disturbing things about her. It goes on way longer than it needs to, and while you could argue it’s necessary for the emotional release of the film’s second half, and conditions were undoubtedly much worse in the nineteen-forties for women in the military, it almost made me turn it off. Chloë Grace Moretz is given plenty of emotional range to work with and was charismatic enough to keep me onboard, and the reward is a halfway handbrake turn where Maude becomes an Indiana Jones-type character in a swashbuckling adventure.
The horror is primarily in the gremlin ripping the plane to pieces mid-flight, but is also in the gross misogyny of the male characters. It scrapes into #31DaysofHorror, but it’s at the outer limits. A mixed experience.