Under the Silver Lake is a 2018 movie about conspiracies in 2011 Hollywood. The main character, Sam, is a piece of shit who investigates his hot neighbor’s disappearance. By investigating, I mean consulting conspiracy zines, interrogating sex workers and engaging in ruthless violence to those who are weaker than him.
Did I mention Sam is a piece of shit? I almost quit this movie because Sam is the type of narcissist hero that i find really distasteful in today’s modern age. He sleeps around on his girlfriend, ignores his responsibilities, literally beats up children and thinks he’s smarter than anyone else. He is a walking Twitter Troll.
Once I realized that the movie thinks he’s a piece of shit too, I was able to truly enjoy the movie. Sam might be the main character, but he is in no way the hero. If anything, he is a walking indictment of the type of anti-hero loser investigator that fiction seems to love so much.
As for the rest of the movie, holy crap is it fantastic. Weird shit is happening in Hollywood and there are clues, signs and secret messages everywhere. Sam is just the right kind of damaged person to pick up on the clues and his investigations lead to the secret deaths of billionaires, a Homeless King, an assassin with an Owl Mask and the true origin of Pop Music. Once the movie gets going, weird shit is uncovered on a constant basis.
I admire the ambition of this movie. Most conspiracy movies have red herrings or preach the idea that things you think are connected, really aren’t, you wierdo. This movie rejects the idea of red herrings. Almost every clue, no matter how stupid or random, leads somewhere. It creates a world that justifies the most paranoid theory you can come up with, but then suggests that with so many weird things happening, shouldn’t you really be focused on your own issues instead?
The movie also has its own secrets that you will have to work out for yourself. Who is the Dog Killer that terrorizes the neighborhood? What is the purpose of the naked murderer with the Owl’s Mask? What the fuck is that parrot saying? The movie never says, except it does if you put together the right clues and maybe read this one Reddit thread . . .
I think Under the Silver Lake is the modern Foucault’s Pendulum when it comes to conspiracy fiction. Instead of trying to prove a specific theory, it is a wonderful take on the people who are drawn to conspiracies, which includes the kind of people who would enjoy such a movie.