Kiwi filmmaker Roseanne Liang (My Wedding and Other Secrets) very much delivers the genre goods in this rip-roaring high-concept World War II action thriller shot in New Zealand.
Chloë Grace Moretz plays a flight officer with a mysterious package on a secret mission who boards a B-17 Flying Fortress leaving Auckland in 1943. The male crew resent her presence, mocking her and forcing her to travel in the cramped sperry gun turret on the underside of the plane. When she spots something crawling on the bomber's exterior, they fail to take her seriously, to their own peril.
An inventive take on the "gremlins on the wing" trope previously most famously explored in a memorable segment of 1983's Twilight Zone: The Movie, this is a taut exercise in frenzied, pulpy thrills.
The tension is built effectively with a claustrophobic first half that rarely leaves Garrett's confined perspective, then when the twists start arriving and the story opens up, the film embraces its own ridiculousness and careens wildly towards the fast-arriving finale.
Liang demonstrates a strong grasp of large-scale genre storytelling that makes me super-excited to see what can do with an even bigger budget. Her first feature since asserting her action movie intentions with the well-received 2017 short Do No Harm is both crazy and impactful in manner that favourably evokes James Cameron's legendary 1986 film Aliens.
Moretz displays plenty of authentic grit, ably bearing the weight of 90 per cent of the film's visual focus, and there's amusing work from the smattering of Kiwi actors spread throughout the supporting cast, who are heard more than seen.
A notable turning point for one of New Zealand's most interesting directors, Shadow in the Cloud is a hoot of a good time that demands to be experienced on the big screen.
Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Beulah Koale
Director: Roseanne Liang
Running time: 83 minutes
Verdict: A focused firecracker of an action movie with a novel local angle.