By Dave B.
Shimmer Lake (Netflix) is a crime drama, told in reverse chronological order that details the motivations behind, and events associated with, a small-town bank robbery. Shimmer Lake doesn’t really bring anything new to the crime drama genre, but it does a decent job of using the reverse chronology gimmick to spark interest in the details an otherwise pedestrian story.
In most ways, Shimmer Lake is totally mediocre. The acting is serviceable. The plot is standard. The characters are not particularly well-fleshed out (possibly due to a combination of encountering them at the end of their stories instead of at the beginning of them and the movie having a short, 80 minute runtime). Character dialogue is slightly better than average and there are some genuinely humorous interaction. There isn’t anything actively bad about the movie, but there’s also nothing especially impressive about it either.
I generally believe that movie gimmicks such as reverse chronology storytelling are usually for the purpose of covering up shortcomings in a movie’s plot. Nothing about Shimmer Lake makes me change that opinion. I will say that in this case, the gimmick was effective. Although viewers may figure out the broad stokes of what happened well before the end of the movie, director Oren Uziel does a pretty good job of sparking interest in finding out the specific details of, and motivations for the robbery. Finding out the root of how the robbery, and the subsequent mayhem associated with it, kept me engaged with the story for longer than I otherwise would have been interested in it.
Shimmer Lake isn’t a great movie by any standard. But it’s just short enough and just interesting enough that fans of crime dramas can give it a chance without feeling as if they wasted their time. If you go into it with reasonable expectations, you may even enjoy the experience more than you expect.