Movie Review: In the Shadow of the Moon (2019)

In the Shadow of the Moon (dir. Jim Mickle, 2019) – Officer Thomas Lockhart spends decades tracking down a mysterious serial killer, who resurfaces every nine years.

3/5

In 1988, several strangers die gruesome deaths across the country at the same time, and the police are no closer to a motive. That is until one victim’s dying words points to an unidentified suspect – a young black woman in a hoodie (Cleopatra Coleman).

Officers Lockhart (Boyd Holbrook) and Maddox (Bokeem Woodbine) manage to track down the alleged serial killer at the train station, only to witness her fatal accident. Not before she calls Lockhart by name and predicts the birth of his daughter.

The incident, followed by the shock of his personal tragedy, sends him spiralling down a dark rabbit hole as he goes on an obsessive hunt for elusive answers. A glimmer of hope comes in the return of the killer nine years later, alive and unaged.

In the Shadow of the Moon
“What the hell is on Joey’s head?”

In its run time of two hours, In the Shadow of the Moon leaps across five time periods from 1988 to 2024. A sci-fi/noir crossover echoing Altered Carbon, the ambitious police procedural is made engaging by its time travel elements. At least, at first. As time jumps forward, the narrative begins to feel strangely stagnant and tedious.

By the third time jump, the brooding leading man has begun to dull the action to a deathly bore. Part of it is in how the mystery collapses soon as the rambling physicist enters the room, revealing the nature of the game an act too early. That leaves little for Lockhart’s quest apart from dead ends, which play out in dull beats. Years turn him into a trope, letting time pass him by because of the one that got away.

In the Shadow of the Moon
Runway runaway.

Unkempt facial hair marks his mental decline, as his brother-in-law Detective Holt (an underused Michael C. Hall) makes failed attempts to intervene. There is a glimpse of emotional depth that could have been. But watching them age turns out to be the most interesting bit of their serviceable performances.

Thematically, many grand ideas are grazed against, yet never expanded upon. One sequence features chilling protests against the police for the death of the black suspect, executed before a fair trial. Yet the commentary on race relations soon gets lost in the backdrop, before the riotous outcry softens to a whisper.

With neither a strong message or an emotional connection to the characters, the film’s teased stirring resolution ultimately fails to come into fruition. Exposition tells all that the audience would have already known by then, leaving behind a less than memorable ending.


In the Shadow of the Moon suffices as decent entertainment, if forgettable and lacking in heart.

5 thoughts on “Movie Review: In the Shadow of the Moon (2019)”

    1. Great review and right on the mark. I’m also glad to see someone else comment that felt the same way about this movie as I did. I started watching it and was hooked in, then had to turn it off and was eager to get to sit down to watch it again. I started it over and once again was engaged in it, but then as it moved along, it seemed to fall apart as much as the lead’s life did. By the end it just seemed like the same old cliche time travel movie and quandary of “if I go back and kill my grandfather”. I ended up being extremely disappointed.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks for reading! 🙂 I do wish the story was better, given how much potential the time travel plot had. It’s a shame that the ending was so dull. And Michael C. Hall so deserved a more substantial role!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Great review. Lots of great ideas in this film and the obsessive cop character (here Boyd Holbrook) is always an interesting archetype in B-movie/noir thrillers. As you say, by the end it didn’t quite bring all the concepts to a satisfactory conclusion. But, I enjoyed it nonetheless.

    Liked by 1 person

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