Best thing you'll see all week: Shimmer Lake

#1 of the tidiest and most fiendishly clever crime thrillers since Fargo.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


Added to queue!


I think I got a little too excited by how Tom described it and set my expectations a little high, but this was solid. Never would’ve watched it otherwise, so glad Tom recommended it.


I literally gasped at the title card followed by Wyatt Russell waking up. Because once it’s established that the person waking up will be dead by the end of that day, it throws everything that’s been established into disarray. What a cool way to tell a story.

I also really like all the actors. I’d never seen Mark Rendall or Adam Pally before.


“It’s digital.”




Hah, well I’m dumb. I didn’t make the connection that the person we see waking up will be dead that day until I read your post just now.

On the other hand, I started expecting some kind of fake out or twist with Ed pretty early on since we never saw him for real until the last (first) day. And showing only “his” arm with a tattoo on the first (last) day seemed conspicuous. At one point I briefly considered he was never even part of the heist, maybe he’d been dead or gone before any of this came together and they cooked up some plan to pin it on him to throw everyone off. At that point I didn’t suspect Zeke though, so I couldn’t reconcile that with Zeke being shot by Ed.

Tom, your review is about as spoiler-free as I could hope if you’re going to write about the movie at all, but it still set me on the alert to expect a big twist or reveal of some kind. I think the movie would’ve worked better for me if I’d been more observant about what the movie was doing, and less caught up trying to guess what the movie was going to do.

Like I said though, I still liked it, thanks for the recommendation.


I enjoyed it but found it rather predictable.


I was still trying to guess the outcome when my girlfriend nailed the plot and spat it out about half way through.

It was still enjoyable though.


How do you spell coke? COKE
How do you spell joke? JOKE
How do you spell poke? POKE

How do you spell the white of an egg? YOLK

WRONG!! the WHITE of an egg…


Nice one, Frank! Exactly!

I think the problem with Shimmer Lake is that it’s one of those movies that really needs to be discovered blindly. When I was thinking about writing up a quick review, I wondered how other reviewers wrote about it. They pretty much just spoiled bits.
Reviewers are dum. Even the synopsis says… …it’s a story told backwards", which is cool not to know, in the same way it’s cool not to know why Adam Pally freaks out the first (aka last) day that Benjamin Walker picks him up in the sheriff’s car. The movie is about the viewer discovering those things. That is its structure.
And one of the things you’re supposed to discover is the structure itself!

Lucky for me, I knew nothing going in. I simply watched it because Rainn Wilson was in it. That was all I knew. I was hoping it was a movie like The Boy or Super, which gave him more to do than play Dwight Schrute. Sadly, that’s not really the case here.



Watched this tonight in the sweltering heat that is my house. I enjoyed it. I am really bad when it comes to guessing the plots of these things. In fact, I’m having a hard time following all the criticisms of the various reviews, lol.

@tomchick, what did the title card you speak of say? Is it, Ed Norton makes a choice? Because that doesn’t clue me in the slightest. How did you get what you wrote above from that title card?


Well, it was the shot of Wyatt Russell waking up followed by the title card establishing that this was the beginning of Tueday. And, therefore, his character would be dead before the next day, when all along it’s been set up that he’s the guy who killed Rainn Wilson and absconded with Stephanie Sigman and the money.



Ah, right! I didn’t even realize the pattern, but yeah, now I see it. All those other dudes died previously and probably there was a shot of each waking up, just before the title card? Usually the body is found in the preceding segment (I think), so it wasn’t as obvious to me. Of course they never find Whyatt Russell’s body.


I enjoyed this quite a bit knowing practically nothing beforehand. I kept thinking I knew what kind of movie it was, but it surprised me quite often. The “Coen-esque” humor always tickles my fancy.


Thanks a heap for recommending this. I immediately flipped to Netflix and watched it. I need to watch it again, because the first “awakening” on Friday now has me wondering if he really followed the pattern, because I thought his comeuppance happened later (earlier) in the film, like maybe Thu? Need to watch it again!

My laugh out loud moment(s) happened with the sherrif’s deputy and the cruiser, and his “date”. Fun flick to watch, thanks again!

I wonder if Rainn Wilson will get to finally play a different character in the new Star Trek series this fall?


Indeed, a recommendation already is a spoiler in such a case.
But beyond the cleverness, I really loved a lot of moments, like one of those in the car. There was just a… universal impact of the passing of time in that scene where they discuss their souvenir, how we all relate differently to that passing, how our relations can’t be kept because of that, how not going away can be a prison too.
I love anything that approaches the perception of time by humans. It helps when the actors are so fucking human, or casually inhuman in that way only humans can be.

Anyway, thanks for bringing the attention to it, Tom.


SPOILERS. I mean, come on, anyone reading this far into the thread should have watched it already!

That’s because you – like the characters in the movie – assume all that time that he’s the main perpetrator and therefore alive! But of course, he definitely dies in the bank robbery on the first night. That’s the whole plot. Remember, it’s Rain Wilson on Friday, John Michael Higgens (the judge) on Thursday, Mark Rendall (Chris) on Wednesday, and Wyatt Russell on Tuesday.

Wait, what? I mean, I was already there for Michelle Yeoh, but Rainn Wilson is in the new Star Trek? I am so gonna be a Star Trek nerd with you guys!

I hope to god they’re not putting some dumb alien make-up on him.



That iron. Ouch! The whole thing reads like a meditation on self-harm.

In the meantime lots of good things: gags; cinematography; structure; acting (mostly); plotting; the feds.

Thanks Tom.


Really enjoyed it as well. I had scrolled past in a number of times in the “Recently Added” category and actually read the synopsis. I most likely would not have watched had it not been for your recommendation. THANKS Tom!


Weirdly enough, the comedy bits with the FBI agents didn’t work for me at first, but as we traveled back, it all fit. The end of the story jokes that came at the beginning of the movie felt out of place initially, but that was because the pattern of the dialog, for me, seemed to be set up towards the end of the movie which was the beginning of the story. So it worked perfectly…backwards.

My favorite quirky gag: The partner having to ride in the back due to a different passenger every morning.


The story is simple. There’s a bag of money and various people want it.

Shallow Grave anyone?

Edit: Just finished watching Shimmer Lake, it was quite entertaining but some inconsistencies kinda bothered me. One was the sheriff remembering someone else’s wedding anniversary date - really? Most guys can barely remember their own :D

Another was the fact that 3 guys go rob a bank but 2 of them stay outside for the most part, leaving the third completely alone inside the facility to deal with the safe combo, the haul and the sheriff - really? I’m probably missing something obvious.

Apples and oranges and all that but another movie about people fighting over a bag of money I’d also recommend is the glorious joyride that is Shallow Grave (the one that came out in 1994 directed by Danny Boyle, that is. Christopher Eccleston’s performance alone is worth the price of admission)