Directed by Oren Uziel, Shimmer Lake is one of the new additions in Netflix this June, with some degree of success among the viewers thanks to its kind of unusual way to tell the story.
Shimmer Lake relates the series of events that takes place after a bank robbery in a small town in northern USA. The funny thing is that these facts are presented on the screen in a reversed chronological order. The film begins on Friday, the moves to Thursday, then Wednesday and finally we are told what happened on Tuesday, the day of the robbery.
Although all the elements of the film are well within the average standard for a Netflix Original, including performances (except perhaps Stephanie Sigman and Benjamin Walker), the interesting thing about this film and what it is worth analyzing and explaining is the chronological order of the facts. So. let’s do it.
1 ^ Around 2006
About ten years before the events of the robbery, Zeke Sikes (Benjamin Walker), Ed Burton (Wyatt Russell) and Chris Morrow (Mark Rendall) were students at the local high school, where the three of them were part of the football team. They won the championship twice and they had a tattoo on their right arms to commemorate their achievement.
It is implied that Zeke and Steph were dating, but she eventually started a relationship with Ed, whom she finally married.
2 ^ 2009-2010
Steph finds some comfort in Zeke after realizing that his husband Ed is a loser. They engage in an affair and Steph gets pregnant. Zeke and Steph agree to end their relationship and hide the truth from Ed, who will raise the baby as his own. The baby is a boy that Ed and Steph call Ed Jr.
3 ^ June 2015
Ed and his friend from High School, Chris, are now meth cooks and they keep their kitchen hidden in a cabin around Shimmer Lake. Being exposed to the dangerous chemicals used to produce the drugs, Chris gets mentally diminished. It is implied that Chris and Ed were under the effect of their own product when a conflagration started in the cabin, and both men escaped, leaving Ed Jr inside.
Zeke and Steph are devastated after the death of their child in the hands of the man that was supposed to protect him, the man they chose to be his real father.
4 ^ Late 2015
Ed and Chris are brought to justice for the events of Shimmer Lake. Ed decides to use his dirty money to bribe the prosecutor of the case, Andy Sikes (Rainn Wilson), Zeke’s brother, who in exchange of the money requests a very low sentence. But, since the final call is in the hands of Judge Brad Dawkins (John Michael Higgins), Ed spies on him and record a video of his sexual encounters with 18 yo Billy, a meth addict. Ed uses this video to blackmail Judge Dawkins to accept the low sentence Andy requested. Dawkins, who is married and has political ambitions, accepts and he sends Ed to prison for just 8 months.
Zeke and Steph swear to take revenge.
5 ^ 2016
Probably because of Steph and Zeke underground manipulations, Andy loses the elections and his position as a state prosecutor and he suddenly has to work twice as much to provide for his wife Martha (Angela Vint) and his daughter Sally (Isabel Dove).
Just before Ed is released from prison, Zeke and Steph organize an entire plan to take down not only Chris and Ed for the death of Ed Jr, but also Judge Dawkins and Andy for twisting the justice for personal gain. Ed is released from prison and Steph convinces him to rob the bank with the help of Chris Morrow, who is an idiot loyal to him, and Andy, who is desperate for money.
6 ^ Tuesday
Zeke gives a ride to Ed, who is secretly planning to rob the bank that same night. Ed, Andy and Chris study the bank plans so they can take the money from the security room. Steph manipulates Ed, so he gets more motivated to go, despite of the danger it poses to him.
At 9 pm, and wearing some very basic masks, Ed, Chris and Andy assault the bank, where Zeke is waiting for them. While Chris and Andy watch the entrance, Ed turn off the cameras and attempts to open the security room with the combination he got from Judge Dawkins.
Zeke watches the whole scene and even helps Ed to open the room, just before accusing Ed of killing Ed Jr. Ed is about to lose himself when Zeke shoots him. Andy and Chris escape in the car. Steph shows up in the bank and she finally comes clean to Ed- Ed Jr was not his child, but Zeke’s.
Zeke kills Ed, and he and Steph gets the body inside a car parked outside the bank. Steph shoot Zeke in one of his arms so he can tell he tried to stop the robbery. Chris and Andy are stopped for surpassing the speed limit, but the officer lets them go because of the emergency in the bank. Steph drives the car into a hole near Shimmer Lake, she escapes from the back window and bury the car with Ed’s body inside.
7 ^ Wednesday
Two FBI agents Kyle Walker (Ron Livingston) and Kurt Biltmore (Rob Corddry) arrive and soon they get an agreement with Zeke- they will be just spectators of the investigation.
Andy and Chris are separated, Chris remains in a stable near a plantation, while Andy calls Zeke and asks him for help. Zeke tells him it is over and he has to surrender. Zeke and the FBI search in Chris’s place and the only thing they find is a sex doll with the name Steph on it. Zeke calls Steph and tells her what she has to do next.
Steph meets Chris in a cheap hotel and she seduces him until he takes off his clothes, and more important, his automatic gun. When Judge Dawkins arrives to the hotel room, Steph encourages Chris to attack Dawkins. In response, Dawkins triggers the automatic gun and kill Chris. Steph asks the traumatized Dawkins to hide the money until Ed needs it.
Early in the morning, Zeke gives a ride to Steph.
8 ^ Thursday
Judge Dawkins sends his wife and children out of town, ostensibly to have a poker night with his friends. Instead, Dawkins calls his lover Billy, who asks $1000 for sleeping with him. Dawkins agree and Billy spends the money in meth.
Steph now asks Andy, whom she has manipulated into believing they are together, to take the money from Dawkins. A closeted gay, Dawkins is ready to do whatever it takes to protect his secret from Andy, so when Andy opened the bathroom door and finds Billy inside, Dawkins attack him, despite the fact Andy got a gun, and he ends up with a bullet in his brain.
Unable to kill Billy in cold blood, Andy lets him go. The boy crosses the street and he is seen by FBI agent Kyle Walker but his partner, who wasn’t looking, thinks he just got a vision. Andy, takes the money to his house basement where he finally falls asleep.
Early in the morning, Zeke gives a ride to his niece Sally.
9 ^ Friday
Andy wakes up in the basement of his house, where he is surprised by Sally. Zeke goes downstairs to investigate, but Andy has already left with the money, stealing a neighbor’s car. Now Steph, who already has his bags set, calls Andy and asks him to meet her in Shimmer Lake.
Once in Shimmer Lake, Andy puts the money inside Steph’s car, without realizing Zeke is with her. Zeke kills Andy, just before he and Steph leave with the stolen money.
Early in the morning, Zeke gives a ride to his neighbor, whose car was stolen by Andy.
10 ^ Ending Explained.
You might think that Steph and Zeke just left with the stolen money, but keeping in mind they were smart enough to plan the take down of four men without any loose ends, there is no reason to run. They could continue with their lives, wait a little bit, and start a life together, using the money to have a comfortable life together, probably moving after some months with the excuse to forget all what happened. Another reason to stay is that it is not likely that Zeke had just abandoned his niece Sally, the closest he has to a daughter.
So, in order to avoid suspicions and to take care of Sally, the most smart thing Steph and Zeke could have done is stay, at least while things get quiet. Then they can enjoy of their relationship and the money. Don’t you think?
Another idea? Comments are welcome below.