T.S. Johnson

A mess of a movie that doesn’t know what genre it belongs to or the story it wants to tell.

Official Movie Poster

Netflix’s latest sci-fi movie, In the Shadow of the Moon, suffers from many of the same ailments as the streaming networks other sci-fi offerings and turns what could have been an enjoyable film into a muddled mess that’s not even worth hate-watching.

In the Shadow of the Moon has a promising start based on its interesting premise:

How does a woman, who was hit by a train after committing several murders in 1988, reappear to do the same nine years later?s

That is the question Officer Locke (Boyd Holbrook) faces when he chases the mystery woman (Cleopatra Coleman) through the city and corners her in the subway station where she meets her death after killing several people including a concert pianist, a fry cook, and a bus driver, but not before she calls the detective by his name and congratulates him on the birth of his daughter that is happening as they speak.

Fast forward nine years later when the murders start again, and Officer Locke finds himself embroiled in a mystery that quickly takes over his life and costs him everything from his job to his relationship with his family, especially his daughter, who was born on that fateful night nine years prior.

In the Shadow of the Moon starts off strong. Time travel is a tried and true subject of many popular sci-fi movies, and the film initially seems like it is going to offer a fresh new perspective on the genre.

Unfortunately, the movie quickly changes its tone and becomes more of a man- obsessed film and a sad family drama than a sci-movie. The tonal inconsistency is ultimately what dooms In the Shadow of Moon and turns it into generic schlock that’s best used as a background noise when you’re cooking in the kitchen.

The major issue is that long stretches of the film have to be carried by Holbrook and, I’m sorry to say, he’s just not a strong enough actor to pull off that much screen time.

In the film, Officer Locke is Ahab, and this mystery woman is his big white whale.

Just as Ahab descends into madness while looking for Moby Dick, so does Locke as he tracks this time-traveling murderer through the decades, but Ahab at least had a larger than life personality in the novel, whereas Locke is about as interesting as a warmed-over bowl of oatmeal.

The strongest performance in the film comes from Coleman, but she’s on-screen, so little you don’t really have the chance to appreciate the depth she brings to a role that often regulates her to a secondary character even though discovering her identity is the central mystery of the film and what moves the plot forward.

By the time you get the answers to the core mystery of In the Shadow of the Moon, you’re not truly invested in the outcome or the characters, so the revelations, while somewhat interesting, land with a thud.

As with many of Netflix’s sci-fi offerings, the movie does too much and tries to appeal to too many demographics. A narrower story with better execution would have done wonders to make In the Shadow of the Moon not just a palatable watch but a good one.

Instead, we got another ‘meh’ sci-fi movie from Netflix to go along with so many others that rest in a graveyard of films you watch once and never think of again.

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