Review: Netflix's 'In The Shadow of the Moon' an intriguing sci-fi frenzy that never lands

September 29, 2019

            Courtesy of Netflix 

In an era where audiences are given a buffet of new content each week (and it would seem that Netflix indulges that model more than anyone) - here comes the streaming giants’ own “In The Shadow of the Moon” to not only add to its endless catalogue, but contribute to the wealth of twisty sci-fi-time travel “Terminator” wannabees. 

 

The film certainly has an intriguing hook: beginning in the year 2024, where we see a brief, what looks like, terrorist attack before cutting back to 1988 Philadelphia when a series of people meet their demise in gruesome fashion, their brains practically turned to mush, and blood oozes from every orifice. On the scene is Thomas Lockhart (Boyd Holbrook from “The Predator”) who discovers odd puncture wounds on the necks of each of the victims. 

 

Unlike his droopy detective brother-in-law (“Dexter’s” Michael C. Hall doing what he can with a silly role) - Lockhart - nicknamed Locke - notices a connection. So when a young woman (Cleopatra Coleman) is identified as the suspect, Locke goes searching for answers. Eventually tracking her down, the hot-shot officer attempts to take her in except the speed and agility of the suspect gets the best of him. But what’s more head-scratching is she seems to know him and offers a congratulations on his daughter who hasn’t been born yet. She promises to see him soon before catapulting to her death in front of a moving train. 

 

Cut to 1997, where Lockhart is now a detective trying to take care of his daughter, alone, and still reeling from the events that occurred now known as the “Market Street Murders.” But when a slew of similar attacks begin popping up all over again, Locke is given a dose of deja vu when surveillance footage captures what looks like the suspect who died nine years prior. How could she be alive? 

 

If you’re still with me, and your hooked on the premise of “In the Shadow of the Moon,” perhaps the film will be your cup of tea, though the screenplay by Gregory Weidman and Geoffrey Tock goes down a loopy rabbit hole that isn’t as sophisticated or head turning as it wants to be. Including theories about how the murders are aligning with a lunar cycle that happens every nine years. How many times have we heard that one before? 

 

Of course, Lockhart goes through the transformation as the film spans from 1988 all the way to 2015, and though the concept is imaginative and the film is made with style, “In the Shadow of the Moon” thinks its biggest trick is a late third act twist meant to blow your mind, when the reality of it is, the secret isn’t that revolutionary. 

 

Add to that the endless array of predictable elements and repetitive genre troupes that never lift off the ground and keeping the film from realizing its true potential. Holbrook, Coleman, Hall, and Bokeem Woodbine (playing Locke’s level headed partner) salvage what they can and cinematographer David Lanzenberg gets the MVP for trying to create an intoxicating atmosphere. 

 

Grade: C

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