Timothy S. Johnston Reviews the Netflix Original Film In the Shadow of the Moon

Title: In the Shadow of the Moon
Director: Jim Mickle
Studio/Distributor: Netflix
Writers: Gregory Weidman, Geoffrey Tock
Starring: Boyd Holbrook (Logan), Bokeem Woodbine (Spider Man: Homecoming), Michael C. Hall (Dexter)

Short Description: A Philadelphia police detective hunts a time-traveling serial killer.


In the Shadow of the Moon is an engrossing and astonishing urban police procedural that takes place between 1988 and 2024. This film took me by storm. It has an 80’s vibe not unlike other procedurals like Highlander, Year of the Dragon, Dark City, and even Terminator. It begins with a bang and almost never lets up. The first two acts absolutely gripped me as few recent films have. I was on the edge of my seat. The final act drifts a bit, requiring more suspension of disbelief, but overall the plot is electrifying and the mystery keeps the viewer engaged and interested.

Woodbine, Holbrook, and Hall attempt to decipher the mystery

The Story

A Philadelphia police officer in 1988 investigates three murders during one evening in 1988. Thomas Lockhart is hoping to soon make detective, and he’s determined to solve the mystery and make a name for himself in the process. As the night progresses, he ends up chasing the suspect into a subway station, and events there lay the groundwork for a future that ends with Locke questioning not just his skills as a police officer, but also his sanity.

A Divided Nation?

In the Shadow of the Moon navigates a deadly political divide. Just check out the user reviews on IMDB. Beware of spoilers, however, but people on the right of the spectrum despise this movie. Descriptors like “vile” and “sinister” are used, and many call it antifa propaganda. People on the left generally enjoy it. My comment for those on the right is that this movie never really shows what life is like for Americans post-2024, so there’s little reason to get upset. The film asks you to make some assumptions based on a sprinkling of clues, but beyond that it’s anyone’s guess. I do understand where those people are coming from, but in the end it’s just a film, folks. Take what you will from it. Giving In the Shadow of the Moon a 1/10 review on IMDB is a more intentional form of propaganda than anything implied in the story. The first two thirds are absolutely compelling and it kept me glued to the screen wanting more.  Simply put, this is a well constructed and high quality mystery, filmed on a relatively small budget.

I do recommend this movie. In the Shadow of the Moon is original, gritty, and dark. The procedural elements have a science fiction leaning to them which grows as the story progresses. Above I mentioned a few other SF films. Each has a procedural component, and this falls into the same genre. My compliments to the director and the cast who kept the story grounded in a grim reality rather than letting it get too distant and fantastical. Of particular note is Michael C. Hall, who plays his detective character as not only a skeptic, but one bordering on incompetent. Watching Boyd Holbrook (Lockhart) fall to pieces as the decades progress was gripping. The events in the story tear him apart as each time jump occurs and as he struggles to convince people of his theory, and his physical and emotional disintegration is compelling. Fear not, for answers are provided before the end credits roll.

Give this Netflix film a shot. If you have an open mind I think you’ll enjoy it. If you are like those on the right currently savaging the film on IMDB, best to time jump away from this one.

TSJ’s Review: 8.5/10

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Winner of the 2018 GLOBAL THRILLER Award for Action/Adventure, Finalist in the 2019 Silver Falchion Awards, Semi-Finalist for the 2018 CLUE Award, & Shortlisted for the 2019 CYGNUS Awards


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