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Under the Silver Lake - 2019

Under the Silver Lake - 2019

Director(s): David Robert Mitchell

Writer(s): David Robert Mitchell

Cinematography by: Mike Gioulakis

Editor(s): Julio Perez IV

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Wendy Vanden Heuvel, Riley Keough, Riki Lindhome, Callie Hernandez, Topher Grace, Jimmi Simpson and Patrick Fischler

Review:

I am a fan of David Robert Mitchell's It Follows (2014). It is a horror film that took an arguably stale subgenre, slashers, and injected it with creativity, style, and tension-filled sequences that payoff with earned jump scares. Sure, not everyone loved the film, but I saw a filmmaker that loved and studied the genre and wanted to breathe life into it once again. So, when I saw the trailer for Under the Silver Lake, I was excited to see Mitchell tackling (in a sense) another genre close to my heart; noir. Add that to the fact that A24 was on board, and given their track record with me, this film rose quickly on my "must see" for the year. This excitement was curved when news broke that A24 would not give it a theatrical run and was dropping it on VOD, a huge red flag as it paints a picture of a film not worth the investment on their part. After finally watching this film, I understand why A24 made that decision - but I would've gone the Atari route and dumped it in a landfill. Let's talk about it.

The story follows Sam (Garfield), a nothing shell of a man that is aimlessly walking the streets of LA looking for clues and hidden messages in everyday pop-culture. His head is filled with conspiracy theories, as he cannot shake the feeling that there is more to our daily lives.  This obsession "pays off" when his beautiful neighbor, Sarah (Keough), mysteriously disappears sending him down a web of secret clubs, tunnels and hidden messages all around town to solve her disappearance. Oh, and someone is killing dogs around town. Oh, and there is a comic book about LA folklore. Oh, and there is a mysterious hobo cult. Oh, and Sam is about to get evicted. Oh…

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Within the first five minutes of this film, I knew why A24 gave up on its theatrical run. I love weird movies, off-beat tones, and unlikely protagonists - but one can smell forced "weirdness" from a mile away, and this film stunk as much as the protagonist did throughout the runtime. With an unlikable protagonist, that is a borderline stalker, a non-existent supporting cast, and a story that jumps around aimlessly like our lead; there is nothing that I gravitated too outside the stylistic choices made by the director and the beautiful score by Disasterpeace (even when it feels out of place). The film's message at the end, when you scrub away all the folklore animation, the barking women, the creepy sex talk, and the many Garfield ass shots - is that nothing matters. Everything you do, own, think or believe does not matter in the end. I am fine with that message and to some extend I agree - I just wished that the filmmaker didn't also believe this as he didn't value my time (2hr 20min) and the studios' resources to deliver a film that mattered.  

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Under the Silver Lake is a Dumpster Fire.

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