The 2019 film “In the Shadow of the Moon” starts with a bang, there’s blood spouting everywhere, and if you haven’t seen the trailer, you might mistake it for a dystopian story involving a lethal pandemic. However, this is a genre-blending time-travel/thriller film directed by Jim Mickle.
The year is 1988 and at least three people are shown to suffer a sudden violent death while they were on their jobs. Police officer Thomas Lockhart (Boyd Holbrook) smells a pattern and manages to track down the killer; however she accidentally dies during a scuffle, leaving the cops clueless over the motive of the killings. Nine years later, another person dies a similar violent death and the investigating team is baffled when CCTV footage reveals the suspect to be the same serial-killer who died in 1989. While everybody dismisses it as some deranged ‘copy-cat’ killer, Lockart is convinced she is a time-traveller with a weapon from the future, back every 9 years to kill someone.
The first twenty minutes of the movie is gripping, gritty and packed with interesting action. You have sudden violent deaths, lots of blood, cops looking for a suspect and a nicely paced chase sequence that is followed by some good action scenes. I loved how the killer (played by Cleopatra Coleman) is able to beat the shit out of fully-grown men and defend herself.
However, towards the second-half, the plot begins to lose steam, especially when the time-traveller’s apparent motive to kill a bunch of people is revealed. It felt a hare-brained and silly, right out of a children’s comic-book. It might have sounded great on paper, but looks a little ludicrous on screen. Also, the makers add in some unnecessary melodrama that ruins the mood of the thriller.
The character of Thomas Lockhart starts out as a smart ambitious cop, but is reduced to a sad emotional mess, who gets obsessed with the time-traveler’s case. He vows to kill her, but is not motivated to crack the case for professional reasons anymore, but out of a twisted sentimental notion he holds. He feels like if he kills her, he can somehow fix his own past. So the ‘cool cop’ protagonist becomes this ghost of an old man who really needs to see a therapist.
The climax was quite disappointing and doesn’t live up to the excitement of the first-half at all. Some viewers might end up feeling like they wasted their time on this one. With a stronger script, ‘In the Shadow of the Moon’ could have been a lot more kick-ass; the script pales out and become shady by the end. It’s a 5/10 from me.