NETFLIX has surprisingly been putting out some of this year's best films, from "Triple Frontier" to "The Dirt," to "See You Yesterday." With the trippy, mind-screwing sci-fi/mystery/crime/thriller "In the Shadow of the Moon," it adds another entry into the fold that deserves serious consideration.
On its face, "In the Shadow of the Moon" doesn't seem like it would be all that impressive. First, what's with that clunky title? And it's on Netflix, so how good could it be, right? Netflix has proven that just because a film doesn't land in theaters doesn't mean it can't be high-quality or cinematic even, and the platform has two highly-anticipated films still to see release this year ("Dolemite is My Name" was a crowd and critical darling at this year's Toronto Intl. Film Festival, and Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman" comes in November with lots of fanfare). But if you can get past the title - and perhaps put down your phone and your popcorn and pay close attention to your TV screen - this is another movie people should be talking about.
Locke (Boyd Holbrook) is a straight-laced and polished Philadelphia detective in the late 80s, who along with his partner Maddox (Bokeem Woodbine) and his brother-in-law boss Holt (David C. Hall), begins investigating a series of unsolvable murders. People - at random - begin dying for seemingly no reason at all, with blood coming out of their eyes and mouth, and their brains literally exploding. Mysterious puncture wounds on each of the victims is their only link, until a suspect is finally noticed fleeing the scene. This mysterious woman (Cleopatra Coleman) escapes, and the case goes cold...that is, until exactly nine years later, when the same exact crimes start popping up again. Locke can't seem to make heads or tales of any of it, until he finally realizes that whatever's going on defies all scientific logic and intellectual explanation.
To give away the plot details would be to spoil the fun, but the movie feels all over the place - in a good way - in terms of genre-adherence...are you watching a gritty detective story, a sci-fi thriller, or something different altogether? Boyd Holbrook gives a great performance that spans nearly 50 years on-screen, and this is one that will keep you guessing even up until the end-credits. This movie might make you scratch your head and second-guess some of the twists, but I'll be damned if I could find even one plot-hole to poke through.
"In the Shadow of the Moon" is smart sci-fi, and overall one of the best things you'll find on Netflix this or any other weekend.
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Sci-Fi.
Run Time: 1 hour 55 minutes.
Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Cleopatra Coleman, Bokeem Woodbine, Michael C. Hall, Rudi Dharmalingam.
Directed by Jim Mickle ("Cold in July," "We Are What We Are," "Stake Land").
"In the Shadow of the Moon" is available to stream on NETFLIX on Friday, September 27th, 2019.
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