Title – In the Shadow of the Moon (2019)
Director – Jim Mickle (Cold in July)
Cast – Boyd Holbrook, Bokeem Woodbine, Michael C. Hall, Cleopatra Coleman, Rudi Dharmalingam
Plot – Set over multiple time periods as we follow Philadelphia police officer Thomas Lockhart (Holbrook) as he tries to unlock details about a mysterious serial killer whose violent crimes defy logical explanation.
“You have to stop chasing me”
Review by Eddie on 14/11/2019
In the space of a decade, indie director Jim Mickle has shown himself to be a unique filmmaking voice with an increasingly diverse range of films to back up his reputation.
2010 and 2013 horror films Stakeland and We Are Who We Are were well received genre entries, 2014’s Cold of July surprised many with its unique take on the thriller genre, while the now cancelled but well-liked TV series Hap and Leonard showed a more playful side to the director, who has now teamed up with Netflix to deliver sci-fi mind-bender In the Shadow of the Moon, to ensure Mickle is continuing to push himself into new experiences that you sense will one day deliver a downright classic.
Flirting the line between captivating and original and disappointingly familiar, Shadow sees Mickle tackle his most ambitious narrative yet as we follow Boyd Holbrook’s Philadelphia police officer Thomas Lockart from the 80’s, deep into the early 2000’s as he strives to uncover the mysterious identity of a masked killer whose bizarre yet plotted killings continue to haunt him across multiple time periods.
Saying too much more about where Lockhart’s journey takes him would be a disservice to Mickle’s film that is at its best when you’re unsure of exactly what lays waiting around the next corner but it’s unfortunate that Lockhart’s journey becomes an increasingly familiar one, as the initially mind-melting set-up plays out in a more predictable and unsurprising manner with not much room for growth across a plot that arguably deserved more fleshing out and screen time to maximize the potential at its core.
In a day and age where viewers and particularly those avid Netflix subscribers are treated to an abundance of highly proficient and binge-worthy content from TV series to mini-series, Shadow feels as though it would’ve been perfectly suited to a limited run 6 – 8 episode season to more comprehensively explore the going’s on that Lockhart’s quest takes him on.
At around the half-way mark of the film it’s hard to escape the feeling that more time spent grasping the discoveries of Lockhart’s investigation and the emotional toll it takes on him would’ve been captivating stuff and after a career that has so far been largely relegated to solid supporting turns in the likes of Run All Night, A Walk Among the Tombstones and a forgettable lead role in last years The Predator, Holbrook’s impressive turn here could’ve carried Shadow along nicely as its fun but rushed 2nd act plays out neatly enough without ever fully transforming the film into the genuinely must-see experience it may have been.
Final Say –
Another solid entry into the Jim Mickle filmography, In the Shadow of the Moon is an ambitious sci-fi thriller that shows glimmers of brilliance around more half-explored and so-so storytelling, to become a film worth seeking out without ever being a film you’d call a must-watch.
3 bus drivers out of 5
Nice review. I agree, this is definitely among the stronger Netflix offerings atm but it has several issues that kept me from truly loving it. If you feel inclined, I have my thoughts on it here
Oh mate so close to being really really good! I honestly would’ve loved to have seen this story fleshed out more.
such, such a profound disappointment. still cant get over
I didn’t have any real pre-viewing expectations for this one mate. I enjoyed it but wish it had fleshed out things a little more strongly.