When It Follows came out back in 2015, it shook the horror genre in a very impactful way. It showed audiences how entertaining horror movies can be when done right, having substance, style, themes, terrific performances and a superb score. Ever since then, we have been long anticipating what David Robert Mitchell was going to do next, and now, we finally our answer with Under the Silver Lake. It has all the hallmarks of a great movie; it is an exploration into the seedy side of LA, it’s a neo-noir with elements of Hitchcock and Lynch thrown in there, and had the ever-talented Andrew Garfield as the lead, so what could possibly go wrong?
Well, quite a lot. While the film has its moments; is visually-stunning and has great performances, it just suffers from over-ambiguity and a sluggish pace. There’s a clear lack of any mesmerising, dreamlike surrealism or just conceptual focus to make this a truly impactful film. We are constantly getting random characters getting thrown in left and right that don’t serve any real purpose. Same with the introductions of different scenarios and the various cryptic clues scattered throughout the film.
That isn’t to say the movie’s lazy because it clearly isn’t; David Robert Mitchell is trying, and sure, it’s questionable as to what he’s trying at, but he’s clearly aiming high for something. The cast also do the best with what they are given, and the film is gorgeously shot by Michael Gioulakis, making each shot pop out at you with its intricate camera angles and bold colour choices.
As many has said before, this almost feel like the equivalent of Richard Kelly making Donnie Darko and then transitioning into Southland Tales, which was one of the steepest declines in a promising filmmaker’s career. Granted this is nowhere near as awful as that trainwreck, but you can sort of see the similarities. Something truly special was missing from this film, and what we have is a meandering noir that tries really hard and falls short in the end.
Dir: David Robert Mitchell
Scr: David Robert Mitchell
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Topher Grace
Prd: David Robert Mitchell, Michael De Luca, Chris Bender, Jake Weiner, Adele Romanski
DOP: Michael Gioulakis
Run time: 139 mins
Under the Silver Lake will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on August 26th.