Twixt Blu-ray Review
Francis Ford Coppola has spent the latest phase of his career taking producer credits on his daughter Sofia’s films (from THE VIRGIN SUICIDES to THE BLING RING) and directing movies that have gone completely under the radar. First was 2007’s YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH, his first feature in a decade, which pulled in just over $240,000 at the box office. Next was the Vincent Gallo vehicle TETRO, which made just over double that. And now here is TWIXT, which played a few film festivals and skipped theaters entirely.
Swann Valley is the kind of town that wants to be left alone. There are few residents and no visitors. That could have something to do with the mass murder that happened there some years ago. It makes a fitting place for a stop on third-rate writer Hall Baltimore’s (Val Kilmer, who was initially set to star in the S.E. Hinton adaptation THE OUTSIDERS for Coppola) book tour, where he’s promoting his latest novel about witchcraft.
The book signing is a bust, and Baltimore is only recognized by a peculiar sheriff/aspiring author, Bobby LaGrange (Bruce Dern), who soon leads the writer to the morgue, where a guaranteed story awaits. That night, Baltimore holes himself in a motel and sets out to reclaim his glory days and write a novel that will put food on the table for him and his wife (Joanne Whalley, who was married to Kilmer until 1996), lest she hawk a rare book from his collection.
On a late-night walk (midnight? Nine-thirty? It’s hard to say, as all of the town’s clocks tell different times), Baltimore comes across a young girl named Virginia (Elle Fanning), who has chalky skin and a vicious grill. That same trip, Baltimore comes across a house that’s been built on top of the grave of a dozen children.
Sequences like that are effective in their dreamy presentation and host a number of gothic images, like that of a drowning girl, a murderer holding a young child like it were his own and even Edgar Allan Poe (Ben Chaplin). Somewhere between DEMENTIA 13 and BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, Coppola developed a keen sense for horror. But somewhere between his 1992 adaptation of the vampire classic and TWIXT, he lost it.
Despite being written, directed and produced by Coppola, TWIXT seems to be a composite of numerous visions. When it’s not a fairly spooky ghost story, the viewer is subjected to a drama-thriller with far too many silly exchanges, clumsy moments and awkward scenarios, all of which are uncharacteristic of the director: Dern lazily reciting most of his lines; a childish Ouija board reading; a visit to some sort of Goth-teen powwow; Kilmer mimicking Marlon Brando, James Mason and, um, a 1960s gay black basketball player…
TWIXT isn’t really sure what it wants to be. Is it a David Lynch knockoff? A nightmare come to life? A way for Coppola to address his late son’s accidental death? No matter the interpretation, it doesn’t work, and still the best thing the legend has released this century is his wine.
TWIXT BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 2.00:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. The style in which TWIXT was shot features an array of visuals and so this high-definition transfer offers a lot of range: the daytime exteriors are at times gloomy, while the black and white sequences offer a gothic and dreamy look.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French. This is a very atmospheric track, particularly in the dream sequences, which add to the film’s mood.
TWIXT – A Documentary by Gia Coppola (37:42): This footage from the set of TWIXT was shot by Francis Ford Coppola’s granddaughter, Gia, who served as creative consultant on the film.