Chinese-New Zealand director Roseanne Liang’s latest film has debuted to rave reviews.
Shadow in the Cloud, which had its world premiere as a midnight drive-in screening as part of the 45th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival last weekend, has earned plenty of praise from those writing for well-known international entertainment news outlets.
Starring Suspiria’s Chloe Grace Moretz and Otara-raised Hawaii Five-0 actor Beulah Koale, it’s the story of a secret cargo-carrying World War II pilot, whose fear of an imminent Japanese ambush is overtaken by the threat posed by a sinister presence onboard her plane.
Describing it as the year”s “craziest feminist adventure”, IndieWire’s Kate Erbland wrote that Shadows is bolstered by “an energy that never relents”.
“Audiences willing and able to lean into its special brand of wacky horror will likely enjoy it best, but Liang also keeps a steady tension running throughout its slim 83-minute running time that should appeal to even hardened horror and action fans.”
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It was a sentiment echoed by The Hollywood Reporter’s JohnDeFore, who thought it was “an absolute blast for those with a high ridiculousness tolerance”.
“Any pulp-loving genre fan who can accept completely absurd action in the name of a good time should probably just stop reading now and add Shadow to the must-see list. This ride is much more fun when you know nothing about it going in.”
Elsewhere, Screen Daily’s Wendy Ide praised the film for putting “a dash of feminist fury into a schlocky B-movie set up”. She also predicted that it would result in a bright, Hollywood future for the director. “Liang’s evocative sense of period and oppressive build of tension should attract attention.”
Speaking to Variety magazine during the festival, Liang (whose only previous feature film was 2011’s My Wedding and Other Secrets) said she approached the film in a way that would realistically represent women, as opposed to what Hollywood often projects.
“There’s been a lot of discussion about female empowerment movies and how there’s no flaws, there’s no mistakes,” Liang says. “And you can’t really relate to that because that’s not how we are in our world. So when you put her into this situation of adversity … I think the improvisational messiness of that is thrilling to watch and also connects with us.”
Originally set to be shot in Germany, tax incentives helped production move to New Zealand, where Liang, Moretz and company set up shop in the middle of last year.
The film’s New Zealand distributors Three Eight Seven say they are hoping in the next few weeks to be able lock in a date for Shadow’s release here.