Under the Silver Lake ★★★★

What’s the frequency, David?

As successful an evocation of an especially labyrinthine dream as I think I’ve ever seen. And what waking nightmare could be more potent than the Hollywood dream itself?

David Robert Mitchell manages to encapsulate that feverish sensation of gazing into looking glasses and tumbling down rabbit holes, encountering strangeness that can easily be dismissed in the cold light of day but is imbued with its own kind of logic in this context. He adeptly captures the way in which our anxieties and obsessions can be harnessed by our subconscious to produce compelling narratives, the coherence of which only begins to fall apart the moment REM sleep ends. Even then, the most memorable of these latent fantasies will leave some kind of impact, no matter how temporary.

As in dreams, “Under the Silver Lake” smudges timelines, bends reality in order to create its alternative truth. An old man at a piano who has written every song that meant anything to you, for instance – the sort of scenario, were it actually true, would make one seriously question one’s own existence. In our subconscious thinking, however, it’s the sort of thing that can just as quickly be forgotten.

I very much enjoyed my time spent in Mitchell’s fantasy and, as with any perplexingly absorbing dream I’ve ever had, I’d be happy to return to this world.

The music by Disasterpiece is as much its own thing as it is a clever pastiche of scores by Old Hollywood composers, most noticeably Bernard Herrmann (listen to, for example, “The Reverse Trojan”, “A Beautiful Spectre…” and “The Accomplice” on the OST).

Under the Silver Lake – a putative memorial to Hitchcock (the film literally features a headstone dedicated to the man himself). Hitchcock + Herrmann = Vertigo, possibly the greatest dream-like psychological mystery of the 20th century. Vertigo –> De Palma + Herrmann = Obsession, a love letter to possibly the greatest… etc. And so it goes.

And then there’s Under the Silver Lake’s house band, Jesus and The Brides of Dracula, a dead-on-the-inside, prefabricated sub-culture sensation that churns out psyched-out bubblegum pop, replete with glibly profound lyrics (sample: “Let our plunders be trust funders”). Naturally, the ‘band’ isn’t responsible for its best material. That honour goes to a 100-year-old songwriter, of course – or possibly Silversun Pickups and DRM, assuming you’re not reading this in a dream state.