Blu-ray: Under the Silver Lake

STUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: David Robert Mitchell | CAST: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Summer Bishil, Topher Grace, Jimmi Simpson, Michael de Luca
RELEASE DATE: June 18, 2019 | PRICE: DVD $12.99, Blu-ray $22.55
BONUSES: two featurettes
SPECS: R | 139 min. | Crime comedy drama | 2.355:1 widescreen | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes):
 Movie  | Audio  | Video  | Overall 

As his follow-up to the indie horror favorite It Follows, writer-director David Robert Mitchell goes for it in a big way, delivering Under the Silver Lake, an uneven but ambitious 140 minute saga about how weird life can get in Los Angeles. And in Mitchell’s world, it gets pretty damn weird.

Andrew Garfield (Silence) plays Sam, a slacker living in an L.A. apartment complex who becomes infatuated with Sarah (Riley Keough, American Honey), a beautiful neighbor who has mysteriously disappeared after he meets her.

Sam’s journey takes him into contact with a comic book artist whose latest work centers on local urban legends. At the same time, conspiracy-related weirdness envelops him by way of discovering a secret society of millionaires; a sex cult; a monster known as “The Owl Woman”; messages in music; an underground bunker beneath L.A.’s Griffith Park;  a guitar that belonged to Sam’s hero, Kurt Cobain; and maps found hidden in cereal. Meanwhile, Sam is about to lose his apartment because his rent is long overdue.

Under the Silver Lake is chockful of weird plot developments with abrupt turns and detours, and not all of them come together. Many audience members will find it perplexing, but filmmaker Mitchell should be cut some slack for his ambition and attempt to pull off something way out of the mainstream.

There’s definitely a David Lynch/Mulholland Dr. influence here, along with echoes of such films of La-La Land, Rear Window, Seventh Heaven and The Long Goodbye. Its music, movie, TV, book and video game references are so thick—and, often, in the weeds–that you need a scorecard to keep track of them. Adding an extra layer to this surrealist smorgasbord are the two pop culture-connected actors in the leads: Garfield, a one-time screen Spider-Man and Keough, granddaughter of Elvis Presley.

The film had a rocky journey to market following a not-so surprisingly divisive screening at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. After being moved around the usually filmmaker-friendly distributor
A24’s release schedule, the film finally saw the light of day—dumped in two theaters for a total of seven days.

If ever a movie was destined for cult status, Under the Silver Lake is it. We’re betting it will have eventually have its day, either by way of  midnight screenings or at home where it may be easier for movie fans to decipher its confounding mysteries.

Buy or Rent Under the Silver Lake

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.