Under The Silver Lake 2018 ****

Andrew Garfield has struggled to make a name for himself outside of his abortive stab at being Spiderman; it’s unlikely that his let-it-all-hang-out performance as a sex-starved stoner in this comedy/thriller from David Robert Mitchell (It Follows) will change that, but he’s actually pretty good here. Garfield plays conspiracy-theory loving slacker Sam, who bums around his LA apartment until Sarah (Riley Keough) moves in next door. She vanishes, leaving Sam to attempt to track her down while also looking into the case of the mysterious Dog Killer who is murdering local pooches.

Sam’s investigation is shambolic, and digs up various bits of sordid ephemera including video games, prostitution rings and underground communities. Characters with names like the Owl Woman and the Homeless King suggest some kind of David Lynch netherworld, and that’s what Under The Silver Lake aims for; sprawling, obscure, obnoxious and deliberately alienating. But if you’re prepared to try something a little off-menu, there’s a lot to enjoy here, notably the creation of dark LA lore of interest to any fans of the city’s Gothic side.

Like Southland Tales, it’s likely to gain a cult following, and Mitchell’s film deserves a second chance.This UK DVD release has a Q and A with Garfield, but also two featurettes, Beautiful Specter and What Lies Beneath The Silver Lake which give a tantalising glimpse of the impacted layers the film-makers have created here. On DVD and Blu-Ray in the UK from Aug 26th 2019.


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