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Under the Silver Lake

5 years ago, writer/director David Robert Mitchell exploded on the scene with his brilliant debut feature, "It Follows". A 'Halloween" like horror thriller steeped in emerging sexuality and relentless suspense, it was an auspicious debut.

Mitchell's follow up, UNDER THE SILVER LAKE, is something far different. Complex, over-stuffed, occasionally savory but ultimately unsatisfying, it's a feast of movie genres jammed forcefully into a celluloid blender and served up under one dome.

Andrew Garfield (The Amazing SpiderMan, Hacksaw Ridge) is excellent as Sam, a millennial lay about with no drive, less ambition but plenty of sex drive.

Holed up in the apartment he's about to get evicted from, Sam's a modern era Jimmy Stewart in "Rear Window", observing his life from his patio as his neighbors with more interesting lives proceed one day at a time.

Slipping into Hitchcock's "Vertigo" mode, a new neighbor arrives. Blonde, sexy and alluring, Sarah (Riley Keough of "Mad Max: Fury Road") catches Sam's eye, and then catches him watching her.

Meanwhile, in the David Lynch-ian woods behind the apartment complex, animals are being slain and strange shadows lurke to the sounds of Disasterpiece's haunting score, which is half Bernard Herrmann and half John Carpenter.

When Sarah suddenly disappears, Sam spends every waking moment looking for her. The trail leads to some very strange places.

It's hard not to admire what Mitchell has tried to construct here. It feels like the incredibly complex political conspiracy of "Chinatown" smashed uncomfortably together with the non-linear rabbit hole plunge of David Lynch's 2001 "Mulholland Drive". That film explored many of the same Los Angeles streets with the same flippant regard for logic and flow that Mitchell unwraps here.

You've probably already noticed how many other films I've referenced here. Well feel free to throw in generous visual nods to "Close Encounters", "Unbreakable" and "Donnie Darko", along with more cryptic ones to Marilyn Monroe and "2001: A Space Odyssey".

At times, I felt like I was watching Hitchcock, then Paul Thomas Anderson, then plenty of David Lynch, and finally Mitchell.

Any filmmaker that can conjure the same style and spirit of that span of filmmakers has my attention, but by the end of the film, I wasn't really sure he deserved it this time.

That said, its two weeks later and I'm still thinking about the movie, which is more than I can say about "Spiderman: Far From Home" which I enjoyed more, but will remember less.

It's a hard movie to recommend. Garfield is so good at creating Sam, he oozes depression. He's not exactly great company for nearly two and a half hours, yet moments of the film really pulled me in, teasing me with the illusion that Mitchell was going to answer the questions he'd so interestingly put before me.

Like Lynch, the resolve is rarely as interesting as the questions posed, if any modern concept of an ending is even offered up.

I don't think I've been as absorbed in a truly depressing movie since Anderson's "Magnolia".

I admire UNDER THE SILVER LAKE for its audacity and sheer story telling guts, but I can't really say I enjoyed it.

Let me think about it a bit more....meanwhile, I'll give it a B-.

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