Shimmer Lake borrows the Memento-style, adds a little humor to it, and fills it with comedians in dramatic roles. Netflix’s latest cinematic addition to its ever-expanding original content is an interesting mix of things starring a curious ensemble cast. Shimmer Lake starts off a bit rough and gets stronger as the story unfolds in reverse. But is it strong enough to leave a lasting memory like Memento?
What holds Shimmer Lake together is the mystery …
Rainn Wilson is Andy Sikes, a much more somber and frustrated version of his character from Super. Andy is on the run with a bag of money stolen from a local bank. Andy’s brother, Zeke Sikes (Benjamin Walker), was shot during the heist and is now on the hunt for the thieves. As we move back in time to the night of the robbery, we learn of all the connections between the various players.
Shimmer Lake is a whodunit mixed with dark comedy though neither half of that assembly does a lot towards the whole. The movie is stocked with comedic actors but doesn’t offer many funny moments. Rob Corddry and Ron Livingston show up as slacker FBI agents, and it almost feels like they’re in this because they lost a bet. Livingston makes a handful of random comments designed for laughs. But the tone of the film doesn’t mesh well with the humor. Several lines produce a chuckle at best.
What holds Shimmer Lake together is the mystery, however, as it builds it loses tension. Each previous day is told very matter of factly, serves its purpose in the story but doesn’t elevate things. The end reveal connects a dark running plot point and mostly induces a shrug instead of a “wow” moment.
Perhaps with snappier directing the humor in
Shimmer Lake would play better.
From a technical point of view, there’s almost nothing wrong with Shimmer Lake. Writer/Director Oren Uziel does an admirable job keeping the mystery together. Editing is sharp and leads to a film that flows pretty effortlessly without a lag in the pacing. The film’s small budget goes a long way while still falling short truly compelling narrative.
Shimmer Lake isn’t a bad movie, just one that doesn’t ultimately go anywhere. For instance, a subplot with a judge, played by John Michael Higgins, produces what might be the funniest moment in the film. But it otherwise doesn’t amount to anything. It’s just a necessary piece to keep the central puzzle together. Same with another puzzle piece about an exploding meth lab.
Perhaps with snappier directing the humor in Shimmer Lake would play better. But overall, the story seems designed for a straightforward approach and it mostly works. However, it’s not on the same dark comedy level as Netflix’s I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore. It also falls wildly short of Memento. It’s a decent film, but Shimmer Lake won’t leave much of a lasting memory.