Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Val Kilmer, Bruce Dern, Elle Fanning
Released by American Zoetrope
Many modern Horror aficionados lament the current state of the Genre: doomed to a nostalgic half-life, a perpetual twilight of re-watching old favorites from less jaded times, when ‘movies were still good’. It is our mission to unearth buried treasures from the crypt, both old and new, as well as give you the resources to find your own dark miracles.
I felt a surge of unexpected joy as I typed in the words ‘Best New Horror’ into the googlebot, and was rewarded with a battery of new and interesting works from the last 3 years. Can it be? Are we actually living in a New Renaissance of the Dark Arts? Finally, there is a fresh crop of innovation to explore; it makes my fangs grow, in anticipation.
Of these beauties, I am starting with Twixt, a film from legendary Director Francis Ford Coppola, (The Godfather/Apocalypse Now) from 2011, starring Val Kilmer, Elle Fanning, and Bruce Dern. This managed to completely slip under my radar, which was surprising. I figured, with the high profile cast, that it would’ve made more of a splash. Well, we’ll do what we can to remedy that.
Twixt tells the tale of Hall Baltimore, played by Val Kilmer, a 3rd rate Horror author, the “Bargain Basement Stephen King”. Baltimore is a tormented artist; he drinks too much, argues with his wife via Skype, and wants only to write a novel of merit. He’s plagued over guilt over his deceased daughter, who died in a boating accident.
The town sheriff, Bobby LaGrange (played by character actor Bruce Dern, whom you might remember from The ‘Burbs with Tom Hanks) turns out to be a big fan of his work, and fancies himself an author of short horror fictions himself. Turns out he has a story, and wants to collaborate. He’s got a doozy of a stiff in the morgue, and is willing to share.
That night, Hall Baltimore is visited in his dream by an ethereal young waif who calls herself V (Elle Fanning). She tells him of the town’s dark past: a deranged preacher, vampires across the lake, a seven-sided clock tower that the devil inhabits, the murder of innocents. The girl disappears, but Baltimore ends up running into another spector from the town’s past: the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe. He acts as Virgil, leading him into the town’s underworld, into the origins of the story, into mystery, and ultimately, to his own Self.
From here on out, the movie is a surreal sleigh ride through dreams, fantasies, layers of reality. The viewer is not entirely sure what is memory, what is story, and what is actually happening. Its got its own internal logic, and adheres to it strictly, which places it more in the dark fantasy/magical realism camp, than merely a straight horror fiction.
This confusion of styles probably explains the overwhelmingly negative response this film got (which is probably why I never heard about it, upon its release). It’s horror; it’s a thriller; it’s frequently funny, oftentimes sad. Close-minded critics can’t hang with blurred lines. But here I challenge you to open your mind, so you can find the many gems that this movie offers. The plot can be confusing and convoluted at times, and it can be hard to tell what’s going on, so I can understand why a lot of people didn’t like it, but the wheat outweighs the chaff. At least Coppola is trying new things, pushing boundaries
Its worth watching for the visuals alone, one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. Its the cinematic equivalent of Pop Surrealism . Its like a Murakami novel, printed to celluloid. The dream sequences, faded blurred-out b & w brightly contrasted with sharp splashes of colors, are droolworthy. And while it may look like a music video, there is also substance to carry the weight, to drive the plot forward.
The characters are all deep and empathetic. You can really see the hidden drives that push Hall Baltimore to solve the mystery, you can see the buried history between V and the Preacher. A lot lies beneath the surface, which makes this movie fun for repeated viewings. In the process, you get to really catch a glimpse of the director, who in his old age, only takes on projects with which he is personally involved:
Its easy to imagine Twixt becoming a favorite for a new batch of horror fanatics. Its sharp as canines, funny, weird and scary. There’s something for everybody that loves dark tales, for the spooky kid in all of us.
When doing the festival and convention circuit, Coppola tried out a bunch of innovative techniques, trying to push cinema into the 21st century. Parts of the movie are filmed in 3D, and for those segments, he handed out 3D glasses in the form of paper masks in the shape of Edgar Allan Poe’s face. He made personal appearances, doing live remixes of key scenes, randomly cueing visuals while musician Dan Deacon re-interpreted the score. Coppola’s 72 years old and breaking new ground; clearly Horror is not Doomed.
To find out more:
Read an interview w/ the Director @ LA Times Hero Complex: http://herocomplex.latimes.com/movies/comic-con-francis-ford-coppola-on-vampires-loss-and-superfandom/
Another interview, from Yahoo Movies: http://movies.yahoo.com/blogs/movie-talk/francis-ford-coppola-talks-twixt-competing-former-self-185226581.html
Official Movie Site: http://www.twixtmovie.com/
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