The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. But what exactly fosters fear? Unexplained creatures of the night, devious psychos lurking invading our quaint neighborhoods? What about ignorance, an ignorance that fosters paranoia? What if what we should fear is what we find in ourselves? Our own ineptitude, imperfections, and ill-conceived notions about our importance; what if our fears is just a distraction from what we know we fear?
Nothing confronts these existential horrors in such an entertaining fashion then the devilishly twisted tale of Under the Silver Lake. Andrew Garfield portrays Sam, a down right loser who gets sweep up in finding out the whereabouts of his neighbor who “disappears” unexpectedly after meeting with him. Things in this town are never as they seem and there’s plenty to discover when you plunge under the silver lake.
Don’t believe me, well I’d say the poster is the perfect visual indicator of what this movie is because…. Upon further inspection there’s plenty of Easter eggs waiting to be discovered if you take a further look and explore the mystical elements that reside under the silver lake.
The Owl Women
So, when I researched the Owl Women that seduces and preys on the California residents in Under the Silver Lake, the first results came up with a Cheyenne princess. Mis-stan-stur, known as the Owl Woman who married influential trader William Bent. She eventually became in charge of Bent’s popular and large supply trains along the Santa Fe Trail. It was a relationship that seemed highly influential on strengthening a bond between the Cheyenne village and Western settlers (It seems that this was a historically celebrated arrangement, Bent seemed to have gone through Cheyenne customs/traditions and the Owl Woman had a respectable position at Bent fort so it tends to have a positive lean on it. I’m aware this could be a bit of revisionist history, but this segment is largely irrelevant to the discussion at large, so just take it as a fun historical fact for today).
However, the cannibalistic owl woman that makes an appearance in Under the Silver Lake is based on real world mythology. The Yakama tribe describe “the Tah-tah-kle’-ah” as being woman who were large in stature and possessed the appearance of owls. Their legend is brief but essential involves them kidnapping a boy and having their home destroyed, resulting in the creation of owls and explaining their extraordinary nocturnal vision.
Owls in many native American legends act as a symbol of death and that’s something to consider when dissecting Under the Silver Lake. In my personal interpretation, the owl woman is a manifestation of suicide. My main premise of interpretation of the film revolves around how Sam uses the world of legends, paranormal, and conspiracy as escapism and the film’s universe operates in the incoherent blend of actuality and the delightful deception of engrossing itself in this escapist realm. Seeing the owl woman as directly tied to suicidal thoughts is not much of a stretch as their reveal is linked to the “suicide” of Sam’s friend. Sam is skeptical claiming his friend didn’t seem suicidal but the police officer claims that he’s seen some things going through his house that says otherwise.
Aren’t urban legends and supernatural tales often used to be in denial of grizzly truths of reality. Suicide, disappearance, and other anomalies are often the work of murderous conspiracy, or supernatural being such as a skin walker, rake, or Chupacabra right? These tales or theories exist either to entertain the thought of incredibly extraordinary happenings, more enticing than the truth or to live in a way to deny the way things truly are.
Sam’s neighbor has a pesky noisy parrot that is constantly chirping…. Something. Many sleuths have tried enhancing or reversing the audio and from my understanding nothing conclusive has come out of it. Theories have gone as followed:
Ova (Latin for Egg)
Hollywood (claimed as how it’s translated in some versions of subtitles)
Au Revoir (Goodbye in French)
Here’s an isolated version of the audio, feel free to get your own opinion and see what you hear.
In my opinion the parrot is saying …. Nothing. It’s a motif that to me makes sense as both a red herring but also a bait. This film is trying to get you to go looking for answers and hidden meaning in the same fashion that Sam did to drive home the point of the futile searches and mysticism that alludes us. I think Scare Theater has the perfect video that might explain what is happening here, and that’s our brain’s not accepting incongruity.
Obviously, the film is well aware of backwards speech in songs as it’s a central component to the plot. The parrot is nothing more than a vague gurgle of noise, imposing the audience to perform a Rorschach test and envision something from the nothing. It also could be symbolic towards Sam’s uncertainty. It’s teased for us to listen to it as Sam’s friend with benefits comes over and teases that she hears the bird saying “just a friend”. A phrase that it most certainly is not saying, but what if it shows her clarity, knowing she has no deeper emotional attachment to Sam versus him who is confused about his relationships and his overall purpose in life throughout the film.
To Be Continued…