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First Reactions: Under the Silver Lake

I rather enjoyed David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows, it was an entertaining, fresh debut which left a lasting impression. So, I was eagerly anticipating his next film, and from my first impressions Under the Silver Lake looks to be just as good as It Follows, if not better. Before I even watched the trailer, I found the synopsis interesting and ticking all my boxes. The film’s synopsis follows the character of Sam (Andrew Garfield) is a disenchanted 33-year old who discovers a mysterious woman, Sarah (Riley Keough), frolicking in his apartment’s swimming pool. When she vanishes, Sam embarks on a surreal quest across Los Angeles to decode the secret behind her disappearance, leading him into the murkiest depths of mystery, scandal and conspiracy in the City of Angeles.

The trailer starts with Sam listening to a record, and walking out onto a balcony where he sees Sarah swimming in the pool of the apartment complex. She spots him and calls out ”Come on in.” As introductions go, this is a good one. Sarah seems like the girl of your dreams, pretty, blonde and friendly. We cut to the two of them lying on her bed in her pink room, and I can’t help but notice a “How to Marry a Millionaire” poster on the wall, with her platinum blonde hair, red lips and beauty spot, Keough is certainly channeling a Marilyn Monroe look. Perhaps this is a deliberate choice by director Mitchell, who is referencing the mysterious circumstances of the star’s death?

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The two characters get close to one and other, with Sarah stating that she knew Sam was spying on her, for Sam to quickly respond with “No I wasn’t” but even Sarah’s dog isn’t buying that lame excuse. It’s apparent that the two of them are beginning to have a relationship and Sam tells Sarah he’ll be over hers tomorrow, but in the next shot we discover that Sarah isn’t in. In fact, her apartment is empty and it looks like she was never living there. Sam asks the building manager, who moves out late at night, only to be informed that there’s nothing strange about it. However, it certainly seems unsual…especially when the previous 30 seconds of footage showed the two characters being close, and in a deep relationship.

Sam sneaks into Sarah’s abandoned apartment and hunts around looking for clues as to where she might have gone, discovering a shoe box containing photographs and other belongings, which seems odd if she moved out by her own accord. We find out that Sam has discovered some sort of strange “code or message” inside Sarah’s apartment which might explain why Sarah has disappeared into thin air. Sam soon finds himself finding codes and messages in the mundane, from scoreboards to the music contained in his records. Sam finds himself falling into a rabbit hole, becoming more and more obsessed with codes and secret messages, and what makes this film so intriguing is that we don’t quite know if it’s all in his head or whether there is a conspiracy. The trailer is cleverly pieced together that we are only given enough information and detail, without revealing too much.

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Mitchell has a way of blending genres, and eras together so despite the film being set in contemporary LA, it almost appears like it could belong to the 1970s or 80s period, which makes the film even more unique and appealing to me. I think this is going to be another cult hit, like It Follows was, and Garfield is perfect casting as a pot head, hipster drop out, who turns amateur private detective. And with its abudence of film references and Easter eggs, I know I will be watching this film more than once.

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