Movie Review (Warped Dimension): The Cloud
by Joseph Perry
Phone app horror and the newer trend of Zoom-based fear fare meet in The Cloud, an anthology film from San Francisco’s Awesome Theatre group. Created and curated by Awesome Theatre’s Artistic Director Colin Johnson, the film features a good deal of tension and some solid performances.
A new, invitation-only app called ReKomoZe is not only addictive in the usual sense — it also won’t let users quit without dire consequences. It’s also more intrusive than its downloaders could ever imagine.
In The Cloud’s main thread, Eric (Marc Abrigo) and Lacey (Sonia Sawkar) become concerned about their friend Jules (Puja Tolton), who has been using ReKomoZe and is now withdrawn. As Eric begins some online sleuthing, the app creeps into his life as well as Lacey’s. All three actors turn in nifty work, and the mystery build pays off handsomely.
In the first installment, “Dolores,” — written by Alexandria Love and directed by Nikki Meñez — celebrity vlogger Kennedi (Sharon Shao) is livestreaming when she gets a ReKomoZe invitation from a mystery user. She downloads it and as the app asks three questions about her seemingly perfect life, her online character and sanity come crashing down. Shao does a fine job as an over-the-top perky vlogger, switching gears nicely as her character confronts the sad realities and ghosts from her past that she tries to hide from the world with her bubbly online persona. “Dolores” is both dramatic and suspenseful.
Next up is “Fomo” — written by Tirumari Jothi and directed by Sarah Coykendall — in which online celebrity couple Dana Disco (Kaylamay Pas Suarez) and Trevor James (Ed Gonzales Moreno) find themselves drifting apart — to say the least — as Trevor tries to leave the ReKomoZe app that made them famous to focus on his music while Dana continues her regular livestreaming. Their mutual friend, championship gamer Miles AKA Ghostradomus (Tasi Alabastro) finds himself in the middle of their dangerous situation as Dana continually livestreams Trevor’s deadly descent. All three actors turn in admirable work, as in “Dolores” first showing the faces and personalities that draw their characters thousands of viewers and then displaying fear and eeriness as events unravel.
The final installment, “The Convergence,” — written by Claire Rice and directed by Alejandro Emmanuel Torres — sees journalist (Jennifer McNeal) track down ReKomoZe founder (Dan Kurtz) for a rare interview that goes downhill quickly. This segment has more of a science fiction bent to it, and perhaps because of its interview-style approach, feels a little less immediate than the preceding livestreaming approach stories while delivering a thought-provoking origin story.
Overall, the writing is realistic, the direction is impressive, and the performances are engaging. An intriguing effort, The Cloud is an entertaining scare-fare anthology that fans of found footage and online-horror films should find well worth watching.
The Cloud screens as part of Warped Dimension live-streamed online film festival — presented by Another Hole in the Head — which takes place online from May 7–9, 2021. For more information, visit www.AHITH.com.
About Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5. He is a contributing writer for "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" print magazine and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, Ghastly Grinning, The Scariest Things, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Decades of Horror: The Classic Era" and "Uphill Both Ways" podcasts. Joseph has also written for “Scream” magazine, "Filmfax" magazine, “SQ Horror” magazine, and the websites That's Not Current an HorrorNews.net. He occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.