Under the Silver Lake (dir. David Robert Mitchell)
In the midst of several delays, David Robert Mitchell stopped by AFI Fest with the mysteriously at large follow-up to 2014’s It Follows—the timely, zany noir Under the Silver Lake. Where It Follows is an homage to Carpenter through-and-through, utilizing the slasher genre as a synth-y pastiche for his amorphous monster, Under the Silver Lake is Hitchcock on hallucinogens.
Absurdist and often times existentially dreadful, Under the Silver Lake takes the structure and mystery of noir and turns it into an apathetic millennial’s fever dream. Way behind on rent and bored out of his mind, Sam (Andrew Garfield) decides to track down his missing neighbor Sarah (Riley Keough) after she mysteriously disappears from her apartment. He’s concerned about her well-being, of course, but also—why would she bail after agreeing to hang out?
In the midst of Sam’s sleuthing he becomes intwined in the hobo underground, frequent run-ins with gothic pop-rockers Jesus and the Brides of Dracula, as well as the secret lore and origins of Silver Lake, Los Angeles. Not to give too much away, but I can happily say that slew of ridiculous concepts only glide across the surface of Silver Lake.
Filled to the brink with references from the Coen Brothers to David Lynch, Mitchell’s movie certainly loves movies—maybe a little too much. As Sam casually goes through the motions of his personal noir, he proves that he’s not much more than a shell of his influences. Not to say Under the Silver Lake suffers from the same lack of identity—Mitchell creates his own universe in Silver Lake’s Silver Lake. But like many a postmodern noir, it’s hard not to point fingers at what came before. Not to mention Mitchell has carved out a niche echoing his influences. All the same, all the answers lie in the grander question of a continuing theme of modern noir: What’s the point, anyway?
Ultimately, Under the Silver Lake is a fun, wild ride with a lot of snippets of greatness. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, as well as rooted commentary that will surely be analyzed at length upon more exposure. While it won’t be for everyone, there’s a lot to look forward to and eventually love Under the Silver Lake. —Grant Vance