Shimmer Lake is a Netflix original movie that turned out to be a good case of whodunnit. It is a crime drama/mystery that attempts to tell its story in reverse. It begins on Friday and works backward to show the events that lead up to that day. There are some familiar faces in the cast of the film: Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine) plays a FBI agent, Rainn Wilson’s (the Office) face is all over the promotional material for the movie, and Wyatt Russell (An actor from one of my favorite episodes of Black mirror) plays an ex-convict. A trio of lowly criminals successfully rob a bank in a small town. As the police follow the suspects’ trail, they began to discover dead bodies. Foul play is suspected. Also, the head officer on the case (Zeke) happens to have a major conflict of interest. Can Zeke keep it together, solve the case, and locate the missing money. Or, will his conflict of emotions allow the suspects to get away.
I absolutely love movies that are told in reverse. I love the challenge of piecing together the story in an attempt to seem smart and figure out what happens before the movie reveals its secrets. One of my favorite movies is Memento. When I read the description of Shimmer Lake, I couldn’t wait to pick up my notepad and take notes with the hopes of solving a mystery (I failed horribly at solving the complicated puzzle that was Memento, though. Maybe Shimmer Lake will allow me to have a more respectable record of 1 for 2). Similar to other movies that start with its ending, there is a fair share of confusion initially. However, I feel as if this movie did a great job of unwinding. Similar to using a Rat Tail comb to unravel a braid, the story came apart seamlessly.
I think the actors did a great job of establishing a dark tone in the movie; however, this movie is deceptively funny. The humor in this movie is weird because it can sometimes seem out-of-place, but it somehow still works. There are times where the tone of a scene is very serious as a character expresses frustration about something they’re going through; next, something funny will happen causing a jarring shift. The movie makes you laugh out loud; then, immediately after, you think to yourself wait, that’s kind of messed up. As you imagine, it can sometimes leave you confused as to how you should feel. I appreciated the humor, though.
The humor in the film reminds me of that one friend you have who plays too much. He’d say something messed up with a straight face like…
“Man, my grandma went to the hospital yesterday.”
Concerned, you say, “Sorry to here that man. Is she ok?”
Now, no longer able to keep a straight face, he burst out laughing and replies, “I’m just playing man. She only went up there to pick up her medicine.”
You try to look at him with a straight face, but in the back of your mind, you’re thinking I’m going to feel bad if I laugh, but that was kind of funny.
In the film’s defense, some of the awkward moments are a direct result of its storytelling format (telling the story in reverse) and not because of a bad joke. If you view the film a second time, most of the questionable jokes make much more sense.
I really enjoyed the performance of the main character, Zeke (played by Benjamin Walker). His character set the serious tone of the entire movie with his strong sense of moral responsibility. He is a no-nonsense type of guy who makes decisions based on the best interests of the town. He is a sheriff that rarely sees any action. Now, the seemingly quiet town has a bank robbery, dead bodies, and the feds knocking at its door.
What I didn’t Like
I enjoyed most of the characters and how the actors portrayed them; however, I feel as if character development is lacking. On the surface, we know the bare minimum of what makes these characters tick. Several times throughout the film you hear someone say, “what other options do I have?” I want to know what specifically makes these characters feel as if they have no other choice but to rob a bank. What is the source of their money troubles? Why are their lives in shambles? I feel as if we were given the minimum amount of backstory needed to progress the story and have the characters motivations make sense. And honestly, it does work, but I want more. The characters are too interesting to take the easy way out. I want to know more about them and what makes them tick. Because of the lack of information, I can’t help but feel short-changed in some way.
The Wrap Up (Too soon, I know)
This is a difficult film to do a general review about because it is easily spoiled. Since the movie starts at the end, if I go into too much detail, I fear I will ruin your experience. The day-to-day format the movie is relayed in helps ease the audience into each chapter. It makes the clues easy to follow and track if you are itching to dig deeper below the surface. Most movies that are told in this way can come off as overly complex. Shimmer Lake is the exact opposite, maybe even to a fault. Its easy-to-follow nature may lead some to call it predictable. Shimmer Lake is an interesting thrill ride that kept me hooked from start to finish. I personally didn’t predict the surprise ending, and I appreciate this movie for its creativity, shocking humor, and awesome performances.
I plan to do a more in-depth spoiler-filled post about this movie soon. So, be sure to look out for that.
Check out the trailer for Shimmer Lake below
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About the Author: Phil Purkett Jr.
Founder and Creator of Some Guy in Space. Second of his name. Real cool dude.