Tuesday, 19 November 2013



Maybe it's a sad state of affairs that Francis Ford Coppola has ended up making utterly generic exploitation movies. On the one hand that is where he started out: rubbishy horror movies like Dementia 13 and bits of the legendary mess of The Terror, and even a 3D sex comedy which I'm not even sure I want to see. But on the other hand how can a baffling, incoherent mess like this come from the same Oscar-winning director as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now and The Conversation and Bram Stoker's Dracula? Not that there aren't some pleasures to be had from it; it's merely that given the track record you expect something a lot better than this.

Twixt starts off pretty much as ordinary and been-there as possible: a struggling fantasy writer (Val Kilmer) pitches up in a small town and gets inveigled by the crazy old sheriff (Bruce Dern) into investigating an unsolved murder case for his next book. But then it shoots off in half a dozen different directions at once: vampires, dreams, serial killers, ghosts, grief. Kilmer communicates with the victims' ghosts through his dreams (in heightened Sin City style), talks with Edgar Allan Poe about the importance of endings, falls out of a bell tower (which, perhaps significantly has seven clock faces all set to different times) and meets up with the goth encampment on the far side of the river, all the while coming to terms with the loss of his own daughter in a boating accident....

It all plays as though Coppola suffered repeated blows to the head while watching a Twin Peaks marathon in the small hours of the morning. None of it makes sense, and the switching between different aspects of the story simply make it feel like two or more completely incompatible films have been almost randomly spliced together. That may be because Twixt was originally conceived as an interactive live event whereby each screening could be individually tailored by Coppola acting as a cinematic DJ, cutting, extending or shuffling scenes around on the fly. To add to the bafflement, some scenes were shot in 3D and you had to watch them through a facemask of Edgar Allan Poe.

None of which you get on the rental DVD, obviously. What you do get is a mess of a template DTV quickie pretty much condemned to the discount racks in Cash Converters, before disappearing into obscurity. Odd moments do appeal: it's always nice to see Bruce Dern, especially when he's doing crazy, and some of the visuals are eye-catching. But it's in the service of an experiment that didn't really work, for a story that was all over the place. Maybe doing it as a straight film might have resulted in a less chaotic film, but I'm not sure it would have been significantly better.



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