Wednesday, March 04, 2020

In the Shadow of the Moon (2019)

In the Shadow of the Moon is about a uniformed police officer named Tom “Locke” Lockhart.  He responds to a rather unusual death wherein the victim hemorrhaged blood and has an unusual mark on the back of their neck.  There are three other similar deaths around Philadelphia, leading Locke to think they’re connected.

Lo and behold, they find the woman who committed.  The bad news is that she meets the front end of a subway train and dies.  On the same day, his wife gives birth to their daughter, Amy.  Unfortunately, mother dies during childbirth, leaving Locke to raise Amy alone.

Cut to Amy’s ninth birthday.  Locke is supposed to take her to the zoo, but gets interrupted by several other murders similar to the ones on Amy’s birthday.  Locke is now a detective who has become obsessed with the case.  There were no connections between the three original victims and now he has several more.

It’s not until nine years later (Amy’s 18th birthday) that Locke makes a connection.  He’s now a private detective and still working on the case.  He’s been repeatedly told to let it go and move on with his life.  The obsession has not only caused him to lose his job, but Locke is now estranged from Amy.

It’s not until nine years after this that it all falls into place for Locke.  You’ll probably see many of the plot twists coming.  You may already have guessed a few already.

The movie moves very slowly.  It’s almost like it isn’t moving.  It’s not that there isn’t action.  There is.  It’s just that it’s very subdued.  I came to realize that it was more drawn out than anything.  The running time is almost two hours, which is maybe four to five times what it needs to be.  Had this been a 20-30 minute production, it would have been much better.

There was a joke I heard once:

Q:  What do you get when you play a country song backwards?
A:  You get your dog back, your job back and your wife back.

There’s a certain element of that here.  Locke loses everything in pursuit of answers.  You’d like to see him take a step back and maybe let it go.  And the sad part is that he knows.  It’s not like no one told him.

The whole nine-year thing also bothered me.  It’s not really explained why time travel is tied to the moon or why tying it to the moon produces nine-year intervals.  I wouldn’t expect lunar cycles to match up with a solar calendar like that.

This seems like a very basic time-travel movie to me.  It’s like someone tried to write it with very minimal effort.  There’s no worrying about the effects of time travel or if the killer is screwing things up more by doing this.  There are no ripple effects.  It’s a very simple story that doesn’t effectively use what it has.  If you’re going to make a feature-length film, at least put some effort into it.


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