Title: Shimmer Lake
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Director: Oren Uziel
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Wyatt Russell, Stephanie Sigman
Runtime: 83 mins
What It Is: Oren Uziel makes his directorial debut with this comedic noir thriller. Unfolding in reverse time, it follows a local sheriff as he tries to unlock the mystery of a bank heist gone wrong, carried out by three small town criminals.
What We Think: There has been a bank robbery and everyone involved in the heist has either disappeared or is dead, the film then invites us to travel back in time to days earlier as we follow Sheriff Sikes (Walker) who attempts to track down the guilty trio one of whom is his brother.
During his investigations, Sikes has to fend off inquisitive FBI investigators (Corddry and Livingston) as he tries to piece together the mystery. With each passing chapter a new character wakes up and retroactive clues are dropped in to keep us guessing and the motivations of the characters are slowly revealed. I thought Uziel handled this really well, it was quite succinct in that manner.
During the final chapter, we get to see the actual robbery along with a big twist which I never saw coming but the big reveal was not well executed. There isn’t much to like in any of the characters but then during the last part we’re actually meant to care and again this could have been ironed out a bit better.
The film is presented in a Memento style although it is not as head scratching and is actually really easy to follow, each scene begins with the beginning of the previous day. For me, this simply feels like a gimmick though because I think it would have been just as good if it had played out chronologically and this decision doesn’t seem worth it. I must point out though that it does swing from comedy to thriller quite suddenly and those swings are too pronounced, it would have been better for it to pick those moments better as it took away from the seriousness of the scene at times.
Our Grade: C-, It does make sense for Netflix to pick up these sort of films from various festivals and I am sure they will hit gold one day using this approach, however, I don’t think this is it. It is perfectly adequate to keep pumping out these thrillers but ultimately I feel these throw away ninety-minute thrillers don’t hold enough water to really trouble the big players but I do expect this to change in the future.
For a debut feature, it wasn’t bad and I think it suggests that Uziel has potential. I’ll certainly be keen to watch what he does next. However, if you like Fargo then you should give this a try because that’s the film that was brought to my mind whilst watching this.