Netflix thriller delivers surprises and takes viewers on a wild ride

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The less you know about "In the Shadow of the Moon" the better, as the twists and turns in this smart, sharp and very of-the-moment cop thriller turned sci-fi time bender are best left as surprises.  

This much can be said: this thoroughly original genre mashup is packed with rich, fully realized characters and is precisely the kind of film that Hollywood is accused of never making anymore. It's also one of the year's best movies. 

Boyd Holbrook (he was the bad guy in "Logan") stars as Locke, a young Philadelphia cop with a kid on the way.

It's 1988, and three seemingly unconnected deaths — a concert pianist, a city bus driver and a short order cook all collapse instantly, blood draining from their noses, eyes and ears — have investigators clamoring for answers.

Locke and his partner, Maddox (Bokeem Woodbine), are following leads, trying to connect the crimes, and in the process are upsetting the case's lead detective, Holt (Michael C. Hall), who just happens to be Locke's brother-in-law. Holt tells them to back down and keeps them at bay. 

That's only the beginning of director Jim Mickle's tale. And Mickle, working from a script by Gregory Weidman and Geoffrey Tock, transcends the confines of the police potboiler he sets up early on and creates something else entirely, without ever derailing or drifting off course. "In the Shadow of the Moon" takes some daring leaps and lands every one of them. 

Holbrook is called on to do a lot of heavy lifting, essentially playing several different characters over the course of the film, and he delivers an ace performance worthy of the script's spiritual depths. And when you least expect it, "In the Shadow of the Moon" delivers a powerful message about the roots of hate and the dangers it poses to society. Don't let this one stay in the shadows for long. 

'In the Shadow of the Moon'

GRADE: A

Rated TV-MA: Blood, violence, language, disturbing images

Running time: 114 minutes

On Netflix 

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

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