Obsession and guilt know no time limits…
Hitting Netflix tomorrow, In The Shadow of the Moon is a slight but powerful time travel thriller that gets to the core of the genre and allows the character work to shin through while having some above average action sequences to keep us engaged on the edge of our seats.
In 1988, Philadelphia police officer Thomas Lockhart (Boyd Holbrook), hungry to become a detective begins tracking a serial killer who mysteriously resurfaces every nine years. But when the killer’s crimes begin to defy all scientific explanation, Locke’s obsession with finding the truth threatens to destroy his career, his family, and possibly his sanity.
It’s not the flashiest movie ever but In The Shadow of the Moon does something that often gets forgotten about in a film with murders, time travelling and the potential destruction of the human race. It gives characters that are exuding genuine humanity from minute one.
Director Jim Mickle has a unique tone to his films and knows how to get us focused on character inside the machinations of the story as a whole. The script from writers Gregory Weidman and Geoffrey Tock is slight but with all the solid ear markers of a very personal tale that sends us down a trail of angst and despair as we see our main character slowly get driven mad by events that he just doesn’t understand.
It’s long but Mickle keeps our attention with every frame thanks to a well shot affair that makes Toronto look as good as it’s ever been subbing in for the streets of Philadelphia and a main character that actually feels fleshed out which allows us as audience to engage with what he’s going through.
While it certainly manages to stay true to the genre giving us some flashy action sequences and confusing us with time travel theories mashed together from a variety of different films that have come before it this film stays special because rather than focusing on the global catastrophe that could be centered around this time travelling killer, it gives us a story of angst, grief and learning how to let go of the past in a character that just drips off the page like he came out of a 1940’s Pulp Noir novel.
Boyd Holbrook is one of those actors who has seemingly been on the brink of stardom for a little while now, and while In The Shadow of the Moon isn’t one of those movies that’s going to move the needle all that much in this department he has certainly established himself here as a quality character actor and a leading man capable of carrying a feature film. From young upstart family man who sees the beginning of his world crumble on a trip that will take him 27 years or so to come out of. He’s an everyman that is pushed to the brink until he learns the lesson of the important things to hold on to in life.
Cleopatra Coleman is strong opposite him as the mysterious young killer who keeps reappearing every nine years while Bokeem Woodbine brings some sage world wisdom as his partner on the force and Mickle regular Michael C Hall as his brother in law and superior on the force. However the movie hinges on Holbrook and he does admirably at holding it all together.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for just a genre piece of cinema In The Shadow of the Moon might be a touch too slow for you, but as a character piece playing around inside the genre it’s just a gangbusters piece of cinema that these days you could probably only ever see on Netflix.