I chose the film Twixt for three reasons: It was directed by none other than Francis Ford Coppola, it stars Val Kilmer and Elle Fanning, and the hero is a struggling writer on a book signing tour. Said writer stops in Swann Valley, a small town with two distinguishing features: a mass murder occurred there and the town belfry features seven clock faces-none of which show the same time. Hall Baltimore is this author’s name and he is promoting the latest in a series of novels about witches. “How does it feel to be the bargain basement Stephen King?” asks the town sheriff played by Bruce Dern. Hall Baltimore drinks too much, has lost his daughter in an accident and his wife yells at him via Skype about how broke they are and threatens to sell his precious first edition Walt Whitman. The wife is played by Kilmer’s real life ex-wife Joanne Whalley.
Okay, so Drunk Writer discovers that Edgar Allen Poe once stayed at a coal hotel which is now boarded up. When he passes out from drinking that night he dreams of Elle Fanning. She’s ghostly and sad. Kilmer dreams in black and white with splotches of over saturated color (like Schindler’s List). He also meets Poe in his dreams and between the long-dead author and the girl in white they give him clues about the murder. Meanwhile, in awake land the sheriff wants to collaborate on a book about the murders and Kilmer/Baltimore sells his agent on the idea. From then on he seeks answers in his dreams. He’s sick of writing the witch books but he’s unable to write anything else. Little by little things are revealed but no one is trustworthy. There’s also some business with bad kids that live across the lake and they drink and drug and fuck and they might even be vampires.
Here are the good things about Twixt. It’s got some goodies for lit nerds like myself. F’rinstance, in a newspaper article about the murders a witness named Pym is quoted. Pym is a famous Poe character. Stuff like that. Cool, but not enough to save the film. Other decent stuff: All the actors are turning in good performances–no one is half-assing it (Would you even dare with FFC?), there’s a funny but where Kilmer/Baltimore is trying to write an outline and he’s doing silly voices and one is Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone, and finally it’s a beautiful piece of filmmaking. If you sat back and watched it with the sound off and didn’t try to make sense of it, it would serve as a feast for the eyes but in a very overwrought, saturated style…sort of similar to Sin City.
The best I can say about this is it’s “interesting.” But it’s not at all frightening or tense or compelling. I give Twixt zero Afghan of Doom.