Netflix Shimmer Lake Review and Explanation

Shimmer Lake is an extraordinarily clever little movie told backwards. And while it is a little gimmicky, it is a worthwhile, very enjoyable movie whether watched frontwards or backwards. IMDB
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We do clever movies here at THinc. Don’t even bring me your tired retreads of Hollywood’s caste off ideas. No. No thank you. Which is how this movie hit my radar. Netflix + Rainn Wilson + Wyatt Russell + Ron Livingston + Writer/Director Oren Uziel = goodness. and. light. Or maybe not. Who knows really. I literally don’t know how to do hyperbole-less copy. Zero idea. But I was hopeful none the less.

Regardless, here is the setup: Three guys rob a bank. And it goes to hell in a hand basket. As they all do. But it’s just not clear what is happening or why it’s going so poorly. But mainly, that is because the movie is told backwards, day, by day, by day, as you back into the real reason everything is falling apart on these three clueless bank robbers. The movie has a bit of a sense of humor, but generally it is a straight thriller with a very clever hook that you will enjoy all the more if you don’t see it coming. Anyway, here, check this trailer out to get a sense of what I’m talking about:

Shimmer Lake Overview

So let’s dive in, shall we? Generally I like to do a quick overview of the movie so that we are all on the same page when we discuss it below. But this time? I’m going to do it backwards… or rather, I’m going to discuss it chronologically, so you can see how it flows in real time, which should clean up a few missing threads in our collective minds. It should go without saying that the rest of this post is riddled, completely, with spoilers.

Tuesday – Ed Burton makes a choice

  • Ed grabs Stef by the throat… “You don’t scare me Ed! You only kill people by accident.”
  • Ed blackmails Judge Dawkins with a tape (his second time) of the Judge and a 19 year old guy
  • Judge gives Ed the bank vault pass code
  • Ed, Chris, and Andy sitting in the kitchen discussing the heist
  • Stef, standing by the kitchen sink… and she begins to reconsider everything.
  • Ed, “Call it off? This whole thing was your idea Stef.”
  • Judge Dawkins tries to convince cop to shoot if anyone tries to break into the bank.
  • Zeke shoots Ed in the gut!
  • “What’s happening!?” And Stef walks in, “Justice Ed, we couldn’t let you get away with it.”
  • “He wasn’t dead two weeks and you were already cutting a deal.” “He was my baby too.”
  • “Don’t you get it? He wasn’t your baby.”
  • Zeke kills Ed, and has Stef shoot him in the shoulder
  • Andy and Chris run for it, and get pulled over for speeding, but are released as a result of the bank robbery
  • Stef takes Ed’s car, with Ed in the trunk and buries it in the woods
  • Zeke – “This is what happens when wrongs go unrighted. They fester.”
  • Rede – “You talking about Ed Jr.?”
  • Zeke – “Ya, Damn right. Eight lousy months he got.”
  • Rede – “Don’t worry, we’ll get him.”
  • Zeke – “As far as I’m concerned, he’s already got.”

Wednesday – Chris marrow gets in over his head

  • Chris and Andy wake up in Chris’ car near the cornfield
  • Andy is certain that Ed screwed them out of their money
  • Chris and Andy split up with a plan to meet back up at the scrap yard at 10 pm
  • Zeke and Rede begin interviewing Stef, certain that she is hiding Ed
  • FBI arrives, and vows to keep a low profile
  • Andy’s Porsche is outside marrow’s place (Zeke says, “It’s complicated.”)
  • Chris continues waiting in barn for night to come
  • Stef calls Chris and says Ed wants to meet up to give him his share of the loot
  • Chris meets Stef at hotel, “I always thought you hated me on account of what happened to Ed jr”
  • Stef has the money
  • In comes Judge Dawkins – confusion and chaos
  • Judge kills Chris and she tells him to take the money until things cool off
  • Andy, waits in the scrap yard for Chris
  • Judge puts money under the bed and tells wife they’ll go to cabin.

Thursday – Judge Dawkins Calls an Old Friend

  • Judge calls Ed and continously gets voicemail
  • Stef gives Andy a gun and tells him to go get the money from Judge Dawkins
  • Stef has a massive Ed jr flashback
  • Stef smacks herself with iron?
  • Cops find Chris at the hotel
  • Ed calls the judge back and he wants come get money, give me that tape
  • Chris was in w ed on meth blow up? That killed jr
  • Andy took money as prosecutor to decrease manslaughter charges
  • Steph called said ed came and went
  • Steph tells them he wanted her to come with them
  • Andy has been talking to brother, meatloaf tonight
  • Judge calls steph? I’ll pay, $1000 get over here
  • No, he called Chris (green haired gay guy)
  • Andy, why are you helping ed? (Tape)
  • Found money under bed
  • Andy kills judge Dawkins and let’s Chris go
  • Climbs into his own basement and falls asleep

Friday – Andy heads for the lake

  • Andy wakes with a start… in his own basement
  • He steals neighbors car
  • “Aren’t you surprised? Surprise is for the ill prepared”
  • Hey it’s me, baby I got it… money in back seat
  • Non-wife packing, to meet Andy?
  • Tuesday the bank was robbed
  • FBI and police visit judge and he’s dead
  • Non wife son ed Burton jr dead
  • Ed Burton said one more thing to take care of Dawkins was that thing
  • That’s my girl, always thinking
  • Andy shot by ‘state champs’ Ed Burton… no!
  • Actually it was Zeke all along that shot his own brother.

The Humor of Shimmer Lake

So many people are shellacking this movie for being funny in places. I don’t get it. I absolutely loved the humor of this movie. And what’s better? Is that it makes jokes in the beginning of the movie that you only get later as you walk backwards in time. Which adds a layer to the humor I would have never seen coming. It’s such an offbeat style that I adored it. And yet, the movie was intense enough and thoroughly engaging throughout.

The Problems of Shimmer Lake

I have to admit, that I figured Stef out about 3 minutes after she was introduced as a character. I knew right away that Ed was dead. I knew that she was the mastermind of the movie. It just snapped together in my mind. And we also got, very early on, a very good reason for her doing so with the vignettes about Ed Jr. It was just obvious that this was retribution.

What I didn’t see coming AT ALL was that Zeke was involved too. The moment Zeke shot Ed  from his lunch bag blew me away. No idea that was coming. Zero. So while I was fairly proud of myself for knowing that Stef was the real mastermind of the movie, I laughed at myself for not seeing the Zeke thing at all. I mean, even in that trailer I posted above Zeke says, that he was going to give the town a bath, right? How much clearer do you want it to be!? hahah.

So What Happened in Shimmer Lake

If you didn’t understand my walk through, or if you couldn’t be bothered, let me just give you a quick high level overview to tell you exactly what went down in Shimmer Lake as I saw it. Don’t get me wrong, I have been wrong once before. So feel free to correct me in the comments. (Which, I am sure you will enjoy doing with great panache and fanfare.)

Back in the day Ed, Stef and Zeke were the best of friends. They did everything together. Zeke and Ed were on the same football team. Everything. But one day, while Ed and Stef were dating, Zeke gets Stef pregnant. But Zeke and Stef decide to let Ed think that the kid is his.

Several years later, Ed and Chris were cooking meth out on a house boat? Ed Jr. was sick that day, and stayed home from school. Stef was at work. And there was an explosion as they were cooking. Ed Jr. was killed. Ed and Chris were prosecuted for drugs and manslaughter. But they brokered a deal with the prosecutor, who was Andy at the time. They got 18 months in prison and then were out. And Andy bought a Porsche with the money.

Somehow Ed gets a tape of the Judge and a young man having sex, and he blackmails him with it. And a few years later, Stef decides that since the straight and narrow isn’t working, Ed should rob the bank. That Chris and Andy would fall inline in a heartbeat. So Ed decides to use the same tape to blackmail him again in order to get the combination to the safe. Zeke is on duty and watching the safe at the time when Andy and Ed stage the robbery.

Ed shoots Zeke, and then Stef tells him that it is retribution for the death of Zeke’s and Stef’s son. And Zeke shoots him in the head. They put him in the back of Ed’s Trans Am, and Stef buries it. Stef calls Chris and tells him that Ed wants to split the proceeds of the robbery with him. And while she is talking to him, the Judge comes in and kills Chris after after everything starts getting heated about the tape. Which, Chris knows nothing about.

Stef tells the Judge to take the money until it cools down. And then she tells Andy to take her hand gun and to go and get the money. Andy goes and finds the Judge with a young guy. Andy ends up killing the Judge and letting the kid go. He runs out to Shimmer Lake and waits for Stef to arrive. When she arrives, Zeke is with her, and he shoots his brother and leaves him for dead… knowing full well that Ed would be blamed for the murders as long as his body isn’t found.

Does that make sense? Am I at least half way there? I really did enjoy this movie. But it isn’t going to play for everyone that is for sure. But man I enjoyed it. What did you think of it?