Thursday, December 12, 2013

'Twixt' (Movie Review)

I love it when famous directors lose their minds.

Twixt, the latest directed project from Francis Ford Coppola, is a masterpiece of "so bad it's good" horror. I can't tell if this movie is supposed to be taken seriously or it's some sort of elaborate joke at the expense of whoever green lighted it.

The story opens with a setup narrated by Tom Waits. Right from the start it walks a fine line between "horror" and "completely ridiculous". We're introduced to a town that kind of feels like Twin Peaks and our hero Hall Baltimore, played by modern Val Kilmer (not to be confused with Top Gun or Batman Forever Val Kilmer). Hall's career as a horror writer is on the decline and he's passing through town promoting his latest novel. While conducting a book signing he meets crazy sheriff Bobby LaGrange (Bruce Dern) who professes to be a fan and almost immediately asks him if he wants to see a dead body. LaGrange then tries to draw Baltimore into a number of schemes including solving a murder, co-authoring a story about it, and placing the blame squarely on a group of goth kids who live in trailers down by the lake.

If this all sounds insane, that's because it is. Twixt is just the right kind of self-indulgent and bizarre movie where each scene captivates by being more nonsensical (and comical) than the last. It has an earnest quality to it; both Kilmer and Dern appear to take license with the script and the overacted interplay between them is spectacular. Things quickly escalate when Baltimore begins to have crazy dreams involving a dead girl named "V" (Elle Fanning) and his spirit guide Edgar Allan Poe.

The dream sequences are easily the highlight of the movie. They are strange, melodramatic, and shot using a knock off of the special effects from Sin City. Hall and Poe travel deeper into the dark reaches of his psyche, to find the truth behind the young girl's death. This culminates with a scene in a windy clock tower that looks like one of the models from Beetlejuice. It's like they hired the dollar store equivalent of David Lynch to write these, and he took the work very seriously.

To be clear, Twixt is not a good movie. It's slow at times, full of plot holes, and makes you continually question how Francis Ford Coppola actually directed this. However, there are so many gems strewn about the 88 minute running time that you can't help but have a good laugh at it. This includes the scene where Val Kilmer drives out to a lake and interrogates a bunch of goths at a dance party. I  see this one being generally panned by critics especially considering the pedigree of its director and cast, but it totally deserves a nod and cult status in my book. Check it out on your next bad movie marathon night.

Grade: B-

Reviewed on VOD via Amazon. Running time 88 MIN

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