'In the Shadow of the Moon' Netflix Trailer Is a Supernatural 'Mindhunter'

With its big twist taken right out of 'Doctor Who'.

How do you stop a serial killer who’s traveling backwards through time? That’s the bizarro premise of In the Shadow of the Moon, a new Netflix film due out later this month that brings some serious Mindhunter meets Stranger Things vibes by focusing on a supernatural serial killer and the policemen trying to bring her to justice. The big Merlin Sickness twist also feels right out of Doctor Who.

The trailer starts nine years in the past with Philadelphia police officer Thomas Lockhart (Boyd Holbrook) investigating a series of three murders that happen simultaneously miles apart, each with the same puncture wound on their neck. We’re led to believe the impossible: The same serial killer committed all three murders.

We witness Lockhart confront the young female murderer, and she says some weird things before she falls in front of a moving subway car. In a normal universe, that would be the end of it, but nine years later she appears again to commit three similar murders in much the same way.

in the shadow of the moon
Cleopatra Coleman plays the mysterious murderer who apparently travels backwards through time.

We get almost too much plot from this trailer, which proceeds into the present day nine years later. Lockheart is a detective with a mustache when the same woman reappears to commit another series of murders. But her cryptic words take on a cosmic perspective as we begin to realize something extremely supernatural is going on.

“You have to stop chasing me,” she says. “I’m doing all of this for a reason. … If you kill me now, the world as you know it will end.”

Things start to make a little bit more sense when we learn that she’s got a case of Merlin Sickness, a trope named after T.H. White’s version of “Merlyn” in The Once and Future King. The wizard associated with King Arthur’s court was born at the end of time and experiences it backwards. So while most people proceed forward aging through time normally, he does the opposite.

“We’re all going forward but her,” a random male voice says in the In the Shadow of the Moon trailer. “She’s going backward.”

in the shadow of the moon michael c hall
Michael C. Hall plays some kind of police chief in 'In the Shadow of the Moon'.

The big twist of In the Shadow of the Moon therefore unfolds exactly like what happened to River Song in Doctor Who’s “Forest of the Dead.” River dies at the end of her first story on the show. The titular Doctor meets his future wife for the first time, but for her it’s the last time they meet. Their entire relationship unfolds over the course of the series in jumbled fashion as they both move throughout time.

Time travel can be a confusing business, so it’s probably a good thing that In the Shadow of the Moon streamlines whatever it is that’s going on here. The nameless assassin experiences time backwards, so she does indeed die when Lockhart encounters her for the first time — except her past lies in Lockhart’s future. In this way, In the Shadow of the Moon lays all its biggest twists on the table. Yet we still have no idea what dark future she comes from or what’ll happen if she’s stopped.

We can’t wait to find out.


In the Shadow of the Moon will be released on Netflix September 27, 2019.

Media via Netflix