Monday, July 29, 2013
Twixt (2011) : Francis Ford Coppola Sneaks Back Into Horror
Francis Ford Coppola is one of the most brilliant and acclaimed directors in film history, and he likes horror! He did, after all, make one of the greatest vampire films, and one I often consider to be my favorite movie. Well, kiddies, Coppola has made his return to horror in the form of Twixt.
It stars Val Kilmer as Hall Baltimore, a horror writer who is hard pressed for money. While on a book signing tour he stops in a strange, small town whose quirks include a pack of homeless Goth kids who hang out on the other side of the pond, a clock tower with seven faces, and an old inn where Edgar Allan Poe once stayed and was also the site of a grisly murder.
Baltimore has a lot on his mind. He is tired of penning the witchcraft thriller novels that he has become known for and wants to write something truly inspired. His editor and his wife are skeptical and unsupportive of this new direction—they’d rather he stay where the money is. On top of this, Baltimore is still grieving the sudden loss of his teenage daughter. All this stress brings Baltimore into the loving embrace of a bottle—well, many bottles.
Lucky for him, he has stumbled a spectacular place. The bland ghost town turns into a world of gothic enchantment by night, that is, in dreams brought on by intoxicated slumbers. In this unconscious realm Baltimore meets a young girl named V (Elle Fanning) who seems to be both shunned and pursued by the ghostly inhabitants of the infamous bed and breakfast. Baltimore also makes a friend in every horror writer’s greatest influence, Edgar Allan Poe, himself who tells him the tale of the town’s murdered children.
Baltimore begins to realize just how strange the town is during the daylit hours when the sheriff takes a special interest in him. He claims to be a horror writer, himself, and expresses his wishes to collaborate on a book with Baltimore. The inspiration comes from the corpse of a teenage Jane Doe in the morgue, with a large wooden stake jutting from her chest.
Coppola claims the idea for Twixt—which was originally titled Twixt Now and Sunrise—came to him in nightmares with Poe-like imagery. Apparently the film got a small theatrical release in the States but I didn’t hear about it until it was due for DVD. It hit the shelves this last Tuesday on the 23rd.
Twixt is highly stylized to provide the gothic atmosphere Coppola wanted to achieve. He transferred it from his dreams to those of Kilmer’s character Hall Baltimore. This surreal dreamscape is draped in heavy shadows contrasted by the eerie glow of porcelain skin and bits of accent color that come from lanterns, windows, and, of course, blood.
This is definitely a bizarre film. The story is soft and slow, feeling more like poetry than prose. If there was just a little less bloodshed and dark subject matter I would totally suggest as a good movie to start your kids kick on horror! The style of it reminds me a bit of Dracula, and it is a return to vampires for Coppola; but this time, rather than drawing from Bram Stoker, the writer in question is assuredly Edgar Allan Poe.
Who knows why this film went under the radar but I think it is worth a watch. And with very mixed reviews, you’d be best to just decide for yourself how you feel about this new film from one of the masters of cinema.