Probably one of the most surprising hits for me so far in 2021 comes Shadow In The Cloud, directed by Roseanne Liang, and starring Chloe Grace Moretz (Let Me In, Carrie).
The reason I was surprised is because on face value it comes across as quite cheesy, particularly if you’re judging from the trailer. What I liked however, (Maybe the surprise factor doesn’t come in when you know that writing duties alongside Liang for this film was Max Landis. Obviously he’s the son of famous director John Landis – An American Werewolf In London.) there’s a lot of great humour in this film.
The premise of this film which is set in World War 2, sees Moretz play an Air Force Woman, Maude Garrett, who’s on a strange mission, which we’re not too privy about from the beginning. Garrett is supposedly carrying secret documents and ends up on flight from Auckland to Samoa.
The problem arises with suspicion centred around Garrett’s character, and who she really is, highlighted by the improper manner in which she gets onto the plane.
Not only that, things become more sour when it is discovered that there is a gremlin that has some stowed on board. This gremlin for good or ill, serves as a great metaphor for harbouring secrets, disillusionment and distrust among the crew.
The more this is heightened and comes to the surface, the more the gremlin pulls apart the machinery and causes great drama.
Primarily though, this is a story of female empowerment; imprisoned against her will, her skills and abilities constantly questioned, and treated like a sex object, until the shit hits the fan, and Garrett could potentially be the one person to save them.
It’s a great little piece. I love the humour of it. Moretz for me, never fails when she performs on screen. I think she’s a solid, solid actress. The energy and the feel of this film makes this for me a real surprise hit and i highly commend Liang’s directorial style.
Some stories have characters or a universe that needs explaining, I always felt that this is not one of those properties. With its origins dating back to its cartoon inception by Charles “Chas” Addams in the 1940’s and faithful live action adaptations starring Raul Julia and Angelica Houston followed by its lesser sequels with Tim Curry’s back flipping interpretation of Gomez Addams, comes the new 3D CGI-animated children’s supernatural fiction fantasy black comedy horror film directed by Conrad Vernon and starring Charlize Theron Moretz and Oscar Isaac as Gomez. One of the things this feature achieves is the creepiest Gomez design which comes off creepier than any other.
The casting choices of Chloë Grace Moretz as Wednesday and Finn Wolfhard as Pugsly are odd choices for their voices. The monotone delivery of Wednesday made her scenes so forgettable that I could feel the data being deleted as it was being written. The inherent excitement that comes with Finn Wolfhard’s vocal talent does not fit with Puglsy’s character.
Some laughs from Nick Kroll as Uncle Fester and Bette Midler as Grandma but what must be a stretch to call a cameo by Snoop Dogg as Cousin It, and listed merely as It for marketing purposes. Outside the family Addams exists the local town with Allison Janney as our realtor antagonist which makes all her scenes remind me of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”.
The film starts with the wedding ceremony of Gomez and Morticia Addams, schmetting the audience in the face with a cheap lime in the coconut reference (this film has too many outdated musical references), which is interrupted by angry townsfolk welding torches and pitchforks, driving the entire Addams and their relatives out of town. Gomez and Morticia flee and run into Lurch, literally, with their car, who is found wrapped up in straight jacket and instantly thrown into slavery as they claim an abandoned mental asylum we assume Lurch came from as their new home, completely disregarding property deeds and possible asbestos poisoning not to mention avoiding property taxes. Thing and Lurch play the famous tune from the TV series on the piano organ that exist in every asylum and with a groan we start a film that feels like its 15 years old. Hammering home that conformity bad and beeee yourself (even if that means you enjoy actively engaging in homicide).
On deeper research, this film starting its production in 2013 after the production of Tim Burton’s Addams Family television series unfortunately ceased. Without doubt his stylistic interpretations could have possibly made for a worthwhile adaptation. Though the film has received mixed reviews from critics it has still grossed $176 million globally on a $40 million budget, so there is obviously a sequel already in production set to be released in 2021.
A family friendly supernatural black comedy that lands a few laughs but if you are going into this movie expecting any kind of horror you may find that the scariest thing about the new Addams Family movie is the run time.
At the time of writing this article Halloweenhas made over $106 million dollars in Box Office sales and taken the second-best ever opening weekend of October and has become the best-ever film starring a lead actress over 55 years old.
It’s director David Gordon Green must be riding an all-time high at the moment, which is interesting as he was the original choice to direct the Suspiria remake which would have starred Isabelle Huppert, but due to a confliction of interests this vision fell through.
One can only wonder how his operatic nod to Dario Argento’s classic would have looked like. Instead Italian director Luca Guadagnino, who turned heads last year with his film Call Me By Your Name, picked up the mantle and collaborated once more with actress Tilda Swinton with his homage.
Now, a lot of people would have balked at the very idea of someone attempting to recreate a much-loved horror film, especially as Suspiria was so unique in style and content.
And yet, it’s because of this that you could argue that there is room to revisit the storyline and create something different for a new generation.
And with the trailer’s release earlier in the year, you could tell that Guadagnino was aiming to do jus that and develop a movie with the look and feel of it’s time and setting, 1977, Berlin.
It’s a fascinating time in German history as it was going through a huge discord and anarchy through political unrest, driving far-left militant organization, Red Army Faction (RAF) also known as the Baader-Meinhof Group to drastic measure involving bombing, kidnapping, and assassinations.
The climate was ripe for a dark evil to erupt, and in this instance it resides with a coven of witches in The Markos Dance Company, which too was going through a split faction between Helena Markos, the self-proclaimed Mother of Sighs and the company director, Madame Blanc, (both played by Swinton).
The story evolves through a series of Acts that opens with an unhinged Patricia Hingle (Chloe Grace Moretz) discloses to her psychiatrist Jozef Klemperer (another Swinton performance as the elderly Gent, a performance that sometimes amazes in just how powerful an actress she is, but on occasion distracts through the times that her character slips a little) about the secret sect.
Hingle quickly disappears from the scene, allegedly involved with the RAF movement. This opens the door for when our story truly begins, when American, Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) arrives at the dance company and quickly rises as Blanc’s protégé.
All the while, the dancers are unaware of what truly lurks behind the mirrored walls and beneath the dance floor and Professor Klemperer continues on his quest to find the missing Hingle (an effort that masks his own failings in never finding his wife during the outbreak of the second world war).
There are so many layers to this film that it’s easy to get lost in the narrative and fall under the spell that is cast with powerful performances from all the actors driving you deeper into the world as you spiral into the hypnosis.
This is strengthened further by the musical score supplied Thom Yorke, something of a masterpiece in his delivery and trance-like songs that perfectly accompany the atmosphere and direction of the movie.
Equally effective are the dance pieces that closely pull from the Martha Graham technique, using a psychoanalytical viewpoint on the medium depicting human struggles through every contorted and distorted action from the performer.
It’s a perfect accompaniment to the films narrative and proves a central tool to evoke the darkness beyond the known world.
American writer David Kajganich who wrote the screenplay for Suspiria openly admits that he is not a fan of horror movies and prefers to keep the drama grounded in reality. It’s a curious choice to take for a horror film, but one that speaks volumes to the final product on show.
There are some great moments in the movie that drive the drama forward in a fairly slow pace towards a fevered conclusion.
One moment that I found compelling was when the coven congregates around the dining table, providing small talk, but in the same instance offer a small window into their world and the synergy between them all.
The problem is the choice taken pulls as far from a horror as you could get with the exception of an absolutely phenomenal sequence when one of the dancers, Olga has her body twisted and contorted in a gruesome fashion that is so relentless on the screen, that you can’t help but squirm in your seat.
The timing of this delivery is hopeful too and leads you on a hopeful journey that the movie is going to go dark and harrowing, but it never comes.
By the time the finale arises, the left-of-centre change in direction is a little jarring and feels remiss and leaves any horror fan wanting.
It’s a slow-burn movie that grinds its way to a stumbled conclusion.
The drama is gritty and realistic with some stunning performances and dramatic dance sequences that hook you in, but rather than set you ablaze in a fury of emotion, it peeters out to a mere whimper.