“Well, was that weird enough for you?”–-Matt Surridge, author and festival reviewer, at Under the Silver Lake screening
“I usually like weird, but not THIS weird.”–Amazon product review for Under the Silver Lake
DIRECTED BY: David Robert Mitchell
FEATURING: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Patrick Fischler, David Yow, Jeremy Bobb
PLOT: Sam has two deadlines: first, figure out what to do about his “criminally” overdue rent before his eviction in five days; second, investigate the mysterious disappearance of the young woman he recently met in his apartment complex. Over the ensuing week, he explores East L.A.’s hidden messages in a quest of discovery, stumbling from conspiracy to conspiracy. Spoiler Alert: he does not solve his rent problem.
- The critical and financial success of David Robert Mitchell’s 2014 horror film It Follows gave the writer/director the clout he needed to get Under the Silver Lake, his passion project, made.
- The film debuted at Cannes in 2018 to a cool reception. Distributor A24 had originally planned for a summer 2018 release, but pushed it back to December 2018, then again to 2019. Rumors circulated that the film would be recut in the interim to make it shorter and less confusing; thankfully, that did not happen.
- The film was a financial flop, making back only about 2 million of its 8 million budget in its theatrical release.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Spending so much time looking quietly bamboozled, any shot of Sam in “investigation mode” is memorable for its combination of mystery and listlessness. The long montage of him pursuing three young women driving a white VW Rabbit convertible nicely mirrors the audience’s journey as we follow him into a dreamland of ever-so-subtly sinister machinations.
TWO WEIRD THINGS: The Homeless King; cereal clues guide you to the tomb
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: What it may lack in specifics, Under the Silver Lake makes up for in volume. At a sprawling 2-and-1/3 hours, the narrative starts at “odd” and stacks on odder and odder. The background events (a serial dog-killer, the disappearance and death of a flamboyant billionaire) are themselves strange, but merely provide the unlikely framework on which Mitchell plasters the following: animated cult ‘zine sequences, another serial killer, a spooky old mansion hiding an existentially depressing secret, and a conspiracy wrap-up beyond our time and place.
Original trailer for Under the Silver Lake
COMMENTS: Divisiveness is a sure sign of a film’s promise. Continue reading 5*. UNDER THE SILVER LAKE (2018)