In the Shadow of the Moon has an interesting premise. A police officers tries to catch a serial killer who seems to return every nine years. It also has strong names attached to it. Directed by Jim Mickle, the movie’s cast includes Boyd Holbrook, Cleopatra Coleman, and Michael C. Hall. It was safe to assume the Netflix movie was going to be good. The question was would it rise above its premise?
The movie’s synopsis understates what it is about. Yes, there is a police officer who wants to capture a serial killer who returns with every blood moon, but that simplifies the story. In the Shadow of the Moon is a topical and touches on race and politics. It is is a very emotional tale about how a man changes over time and the effects it has on his family. There are also some science fiction elements. This is more than just a police procedural with a twist.
Dealing with time travel is difficult in movies. It is a theoretical concept that is asking for viewers to look for plot holes. The constant jumps can also lead to pacing and storytelling problems. That is not an issue here. Where most will use the time traveling element to stop, restart, and repeat, In the Shadow of the Moon tells its story in a linear fashion. This allows the movie to still get its story over without confusing and frustrating viewers.
In the Shadow of the Moon is a well paced movie. The plot is basically broken up into segments that take place every nine years. The action starts almost immediately and never lets up. In between the chases and fights, the story is constantly advancing. This is seen most in the character of Thomas Lockhart (Boyd Holbrook). He stars as a young police officer trying to make his way up the ranks. As the plot and the years progress, Locke’s focus and relationship with his family changes. Naturally, other characters change over the years, but Lockhart’s is the most striking.
This is a story that is almost guaranteed to polarize audiences. It is not slow, but it does take its time telling its tale. Some people will appreciate this. The film gives a deep look at Locke and does a great job of building its world. It is an thoughtful and will deliver on its many levels until the big reveal. This is not as much a time travel story as it is a story about people that has some time travel elements.
These are the same reasons people will turn on In the Shadow of the Moon. For some, the movie will not have enough science fiction elements. Others will think it does not deal enough with the mystery of the killer while spending too much time on characters. Of course, there will always be people who say they saw the end coming or the time travel was not done correctly.
The reason the movie walks such a thin line is the suspect writing. It does a good job for the most part. The idea is intriguing and Locke is an engaging character to watch. Sometimes, the script does not live up to the level of the idea. The reveal of the big bad is revealed in a blink and you miss it moment. This can be explained by the bigger twist. What cannot be explained is why the writers decided it was necessary to recap the entire movie. It is not step, but it does come off as insulting and lazy.
In the Shadow of the Moon has a great cast and absorbing premise. It successfully mixes genres and tells an emotional story about its characters. Unfortunately, the writing is not always able to live up to expectations. Ultimately, it is a good film that can be very enjoyable with some very noticeable flaws.