The film Under The Silver Lake is notable for having secret codes embedded throughout, some that are in service of the story, and others for us the audience to later ponder over. Let’s take a look at what’s hidden beneath the surface.

List of codes throughout the film

Codes appear in many places of the film. Here’s an attempt to list all the relevant codes and where to find them.

Codes used by characters in the film I’ve marked with [C] and in orange.
Codes for us the audience to explore further I’ve marked with [A] and in green.

  • 00:00:28 Unicorn, Tiger, Snake, Lion are the movie title initials: UTSL
  • 00:00:53 T-shirt with animal logos spell BWAR DOG KILR
  • 00:01:24 Sam is framed by the Beware the Dog Killer window message
  • 00:01:30 [A] Coffee menu has Morse code: -..- .— …- — — .— .-. -.– -..- . .-. … .–
  • 00:02:29 Sam room is number 23
  • 00:12:58 [A] Dolls have a Zodiac code that spells “tombstone sheriff entries”
  • 00:15:38 [C] The fireworks morse code hidden in plain sight says “I ascend now”
  • 00:18:07 [A] TV clues us in to Copiale Graffiti, which refers to the Copiale cipher
  • 00:25:01 [C] Two diamonds behind the bedroom door are hobo code to stay quiet
  • 00:25:27 [A] Graffiti using Copiale cipher saying Coffee Menu
  • 00:27:16 [C] 751 from the scoreboard is for 751 Echo Park Lake
  • 00:44:03 [A] Optique billboard has a code at lower left saying “E=EE”
  • 00:45:53 [C] Hobo codes are explained
  • 00:49:25 [A] The decipher key is shown on the comic man’s bedroom wall
  • 00:57:48 [C] Sam is given the Jesus Saves album
  • 01:03:12 [A] Graffiti using Copiale cipher on toilet stall wall, says Coffee Menu
  • 01:14:13 [C] Turning Teeth word length decodes Surrounded By A Dove lyrics
  • 01:23:37 [A] Another decipher key in comic man’s bedroom
  • 01:48:41 [C] Sam uses wrist band saying Jefferson – NPM1 35 to 37 H6-G4 to find Mt Hollywood
  • 01:54:10 [A] The hobo sign for not a safe place, is the same as the what3words logo
  • 02:11:48 [C] Stay quiet Hobo code reiterates the Hobo king’s recent warning
  • 02:17:08 Caesar cipher for one of the credits, where B=A

Further details

Animal logos

The animals shown on different background colors at the start of film each represent a different letter of the film title. The initial letters of Unicorn Tiger Snake Lion are the same as for Under The Silver Lake: UTSL.

Here’s the shirt with animal logos on it.

Shirt with animal logos spells BWAR DOG KILR

The animal logos are

Bear, Walrus, Alligator, Raccoon
Dog, Ostrich, Giraffe
Koala, Iguana, Lion, Raccoon

The initials of each word spells out BWAR DOG KILR, meaning Beware Dog Killer.

Room number 23

Sams room number 23 is a reference to the move The Number 23 where obsessing over the number causes a descent into madness.

Credits cipher

And in the credits there is a Caesar cipher of “b ebwje spcfsu njudifmm gjmn voefs uif tjmwfs mblf” where B=A resolves to “a david robert mitchell film under the silver lake”

As for the rest of the codes in the film, they are either used by the characters, or are for us the audience as a larger puzzle to figure out later on.

Secret codes used by characters


Sarah behaves strangely after the fireworks. Shortly afterwards Sam is informed about there being messages hidden in plain sight. The first part of the fireworks is heard at and interprets in Morse code to .. / .- / … / -.-. / . / -. / -.. / -. / — / .–

That Morse code spells “I Ascend Now” and you can see Sarah interpreting that message. The message tells Sarah that it’s time to get to the tomb, which explains why she packs up and leaves by the very next day. The reddit post on the fireworks has further details about this too.

Stay quiet

Sam sees two diamonds drawn on the wall behind Sarah’s bedroom door, which he later on learns is Hobo code to stay quiet.

7 5 1

The numbers 7 5 1 are seen on the scoreboard, and instruct the girls to head to address 751. The place that they end up at is Echo Park Lake, which is located at 751 Echo Park Lane.

Hobo codes

Sam learns from the comic man about Hobo codes, and that the two diamonds he saw on Sarah’s bedroom wall were instructing her to stay quiet.

Vinyl album

Sam is given the Jesus Saves album, which he uses to decode further information.

Decoding lyrics

Counting the number of letters in each word from the Turning Teeth lyrics, lets Sam decode a message from the Surrounded By A Dove lyrics to rub Dean’s head and wait under Newton.

Cereal box

Sam obtains the the Spacestones cereal box. The comic man was right, it was the key to everything.

Jefferson’s wrist band

Sam is given a wrist band saying Jefferson – NPM1 35 to 37 H6-G4, which is the key that helps him to connectseveral disparate things together.

The Final Man

Sam uses the 1st issue of Nintendo Power mag and Spacestones map to locate Mt Hollywood, where he meets up with the final man.


The stay quiet code painted over Sam’s door Stay quiet Hobo code reiterates the Hobo king’s warning to Sam.

Secret codes for the audience

A deeper mystery awaits us as the audience, for throughout the movie a separate set of secret codes are waiting for us to make sense of.

The codes for us to ponder over are used in the following order:

  1. Copiale cipher
  2. Morse code
  3. Substitution cipher
  4. Simple replacement
  5. Zodiac cipher
  6. Keyword substitution

Copiale cipher

Strange graffiti appears at a few places in the film, both on a footpath wall, and on a toilet stall wall.


But how do we decode it? That appears in the news ticker of a report about Jefferson Sevence being still missing.


When using simple substitution, as described on a Reddit post about weird code in the toilets, the graffiti translates to a message of “coffee menu”.

Coffee Menu

The coffee menu seen at 00:01:30 in the film has Morse code along the bottom edge of the menu.


The coffee menu Morse code of -..- / .— / …- / — / — / .— / .-. / -.– / -..- / . / .-. / … / .– spells “XJVO OJRY XERSW” but what does that mean? How do we decode it?

Comic man’s bedroom

The comic man’s bedroom has a decryption key on his bedroom wall.

Post image

When the coffee menu code is decrypted it says: “What Thre Words” with a missing E. Further details about decoding the morse code are in the Reddit post about the morse code.

See clearly now

From the billboard of Sam’s ex partner, we get another clue at the bottom left of it that “E=EE”


That key helps to give us clarification, that the answer is “What Three Words”

What three words?

At 1:54:10 Sam comes across the Hobo code for not a safe place, which uses the same code as the logo for, a geolocation service that uses three words to find a location to within 3 metres.

Post image

But what three words do we use? Well, Sarah has three dolls with another code on them.

Sarah’s three dolls

Beside Sarah’s tv at at 00:12:58 into the film are three dolls that have each have a significant code on them.

Post image

The code on each doll uses the Zodiac cipher, which was decoded in a doll message post, that gives the three words of “tombstone sheriff entries”.

Where does this lead?

When we use tombstone.sheriff.entries at that places us in the a grove of trees, close to Mitchell Peak and Sphinx Crest, which I think is a pleasing and satisfactory end of the line to our investigation.

In the valley of kings in a grove of sequoia trees is the right kind of place for druids to perform ceremonies, and for the director to ascend to his tomb under Mitchell Peak.

Other possible leads

There are other seemingly meaningful clues throughout the film connecting with the words from tombstone.sheriff.entries

Tombstones are all over the place, and the camera uniquely focuses on a Wells tombstone when Sam was waking up on Gaynor’s grave.

There is the sheriff called Barns that evicts Sam, a sheriff tow-truck takes Sam’s car, and the Hobo king act like a sheriff too.

Entries is tombs, for when Sam mentions the bunkers, he’s told that they’re tombs.

wells.barns.tombs takes you to the base of Vera Cruz Mountain, but what’s there is up for anyone’s guess.


The underthesilverlake subreddit has helped a lot of us to put together further information about the clues and codes within the film, culminating in this biggest discovery post that connects everything together.

It is entirely possible that a deeper meaning exists from all of this, but I suspect that the Director is instead giving us a message that hints at a deeper meaning that we aren’t privy to such secrets. The Reddit post of thoughts on where we stand asks about if there’s any further direction to go.

I think that Mitchell has placed tantalizing clues that deliberately don’t lead anywhere further, to help reinforce the idea of secrets hidden in plain sight. For me, that provides a more satisfying conclusion than to crave more mystery that likely doesn’t even exist.

As Sam’s bar buddy said, “We crave mystery, ’cause there’s none left.”