In the Shadow of the Moon

A Philadelphia detective slowly unravels as he nurses a lifelong obsession with an enigmatic female serial killer whose crimes defy explanation.

Year: 2019
Certificate: 15
Director: Jim Mickle
Starring: Boyd HolbrookMichael C. HallCleopatra ColemanBokeem WoodbineRudi DharmalingamRachel Keller

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Settling in for movie night it soon became apparent, the reason for this movie’s ‘15’ age rating. Some of the opening scenes depict violence and some distressingly gory scenes that show blood loss from the face, brain matter and images of dead bodies. They were significant to the plot however and in my opinion not gratuitously added. The language is pretty strong from the start but in keeping with the time it is set in and the characters. 

So, let’s get to the plot. The film opens with scenes from Philadelphia set in the future – the year 2024 and show what appears to be almost a post-apocalyptic-style America. The scene is a deserted office block and as the camera pans out of the smashed windows to the street below, there appears to have been a devastating explosion. A strange new version of the American flag floats down to the carnage on the street below suggesting this is some kind of attack, maybe?  

We are then catapulted backwards to the year 1988, a classical pianist is in concert. Under the spotlight on stage, he finds himself in distress as his nose begins to bleed. Whilst his music continues to play, the scenes shift to other victims across the city, miles apart. A female bus driver, a chef in the kitchen. Flitting between the three victims to show their similar deathly symptoms whilst the pianist’s music plays out, we then see a mysterious hooded figure on foot, running. 

This is where we meet main-character Officer Thomas Lockhart (Boyd Holbrook), an eager young cop desperate for the title of detective waiting for the big case that will surely promote him. Lockhart is like a dog with a bone; following the leads on this case along with his partner Maddox (Bokeem Woodbine) and much to the frustration of newly promoted detective Brian Holt (Michael C. Hall). Holt is the actual lead on the case and also happens to be the brother of Lockhart’s very pregnant wife. Unfortunately the trailer (as seems to be the trend nowadays) appears to reveal pretty much the whole narrative of the movie so if you’re avoiding major spoilers I recommend you stop the trailer at 1’30, however, should you choose to watch the whole trailer, fear not – writers ‘Gregory Weidman and Geoffrey Tock’ and director Jim Mickle have left a few more twists and turns in the plotline for the viewer and the film is still worth watching in its entirety.

The victims have all received a strange tri-puncture wound to the back of their neck that appears to have administered some kind of drug to the victims bodies inducing this gruesome haemorrhaging. You would be forgiven for thinking this is vampirical in nature, it’s not, so we can strike that theory but in the interest of not including spoilers – I will delve no further into what caused the wounds except to say it is nothing they have heard of in the 1980’s. At 115 minutes long, the movie is not short in length but I didn’t find myself checking my watch once. The story is so intriguing it had me gripped from the outset and I had seen the trailer in full!   

Technically classed as a sci-fi movie; ‘In The Shadow of The Moon’, seems a bit of a stretch. Think more, action-crime-thriller, heck, some have hailed it as ‘genre-bending’ and I have to agree. Not knowing what genre or era this movie is firmly attached to only adds to the suspense and the ‘What is going on?’ feeling (in a good way). Unless you are a die-hard sci-fi fan expecting that genre, then you may be disappointed. 

Australian actor Cleopatra Coleman plays the character of Rya. Whilst we don’t get to see any of Rya’s backstory throughout the movie, she delicately presents us with character traits leaving us thirsty to find out more of her and her story and enables us to empathise with character Lockhart’s fascination with finding answers. With this in mind, in my opinion, it is Coleman’s performance that knits together the delicacy of this plotline.

As the film progresses we see Lockhart’s obsession with the case develop to the detriment of his whole life, including his family. Will he ever find the answers he is looking for and more importantly; is he even looking in the right direction? You’ll have to watch to find out but this movie gets a big thumbs up from me at New On Netflix HQ.

Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!

About Laura

Copywriter at LW Freelance Writing. I'm also a mother and wife, owner of two dogs and practicing Christian. Passionate about TV, film & cinema, spoken word, poetry, politics, autism and, feminism. Poet at

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