Those who have wanted legendary director Frances Ford Coppola to return to horror after bringing audiences Bram Stoker’s Dracula way back in the early 90s, may have deep regrets after seeing Twixt. This experimental horror film from Coppola is misguided in almost every way, regardless of its campy intentions. For those who tend to enjoy when I really lay into a movie, look no further than here, as Twixt is the kind of project that you never wish talented people to be involved with, but can’t help but make fun of, after seeing it. So yes, I have more to say about the film, as well as the Blu-ray in general, which can be found by continuing to read this review below.
Twixt is set in a small town with some spooky secrets. Val Kilmer stars as Hall Baltimore, a writer who has arrived in a quaint town for the sake of a book signing (he is essentially a very low-rent Stephen King), but is drawn into the mysteries that this town has to offer. He discovers a disturbing murder, which could serve as source material for his next novel. Adding onto that, Baltimore meets the ghost of a young girl, V (Elle Fanning). Whether or not these are visions in nightmares that Baltimore is experiencing or something worse, it becomes very apparent that Baltimore is in over his head, as he deals with more and more plot that he can use for his novel. He also deals with the antics of the sheriff (Bruce Dern), visions of Edgar Allen Poe (Ben Chaplin), and a wife (played by Kilmer’s actual ex-wife Joanne Whalley) threatening to sell off his possessions. Lots of true horror abound.
I mean it, as if I did not think Coppola’s Jack was horrific enough, he has really topped himself with Twixt. The actors have all certainly showed up to read their lines, but there is very little to suggest that all of them were on the same page in terms of what they thought this film was going to be. Val Kilmer, an actor I generally try to credit as much as I can, is remarkably out of place, as he attempts to wink his way through this film that seems to have a lot of serious and dark issues going on in its backstory, despite the attempts of everyone else to play this campier. Bruce Dern continues to mark off notches in his stable of ‘wily old coot’ characters. And Ben Chaplin does his best to keep the straightest face as Edgar Allen Poe. At least Fanning is young enough to just be around and say that she did a film with Frances Ford Coppola.
To say where everything is going would be spoiling the “fun” of this movie, but I will say that Twixt really seems pleased with itself, given the self-aware dialogue that is like a poor attempt to add a meta-contextual layer to a film that is not nearly in a good enough place to have that seem satisfying. By the time the film does reach its finale, it is not so much confusing, as it is an inevitable realization that a lot of time was wasted to get to the punch line that this film seems to have been very delighted in offering.
It is not too much of a surprise that credit can at least be given to the look of the film, as Coppola is quite adept at making good-looking movies, especially as he delves into the gothic horror side of things, no matter what the budget (though this is nowhere near the extravagance and exuberance of ‘Dracula’). Still, even with cinematographer Mihai Malaimare, Jr. (The Master) capturing a mix of countryside and surreal imagery to keep an interesting visual flavor of Twixt present to the viewer’s eye throughout, this is a film that suffers from way too many problems to simply have the flashy visuals weigh in over the rest of this misbegotten feature.
I cannot say that I revealed too much about the feature itself, but I feel like I have been quite clear in my opinions of it. Twixt is a failure in many ways. The film is confused at what it wants to be, strangely confident in its own writing as a statement on these kinds of films, and poorly conceived on almost every other level as well. Some may want to make an argument for the experimental aspects that Coppola attempted with this film, but that really matters not if this is the final product and that final product is this bad.
Twixt arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation that looks quite good, given that this film was shot with cameras fit for low-budget filmmaking. As the film bounces back and forth between a natural world and a surreal dream world, with very deliberate color saturations, the viewer of this Blu-ray gets a chance to see the film about as clearly as possible. Textures are all sharp enough, with plenty of detail to be scene in various scenes (sometimes emphasizing the low budget of the film). The colors come alive in the scenes that really rely on them. And the black levels are balanced pretty well for the most part. Given that cinematography was the highlight for Twixt, the Blu-ray does good enough justice to its video quality.
The film features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track that does about as much as one could hope for with a film like this, as far as average Blu-ray discs for terrible films go. There is nothing memorable about the score, but one can certainly acknowledge it as appropriate enough for a confused gothic horror feature and the Blu-ray does enough justice in this department. The mixing is overall decent, as dialogue is clear, the scenes reliant on sound effects come across very well, and the ambient noise level does proper justice to the feature during scenes set out in the open or with mild crowds afoot. The audio track is fine here.
There is only one special feature and that is a documentary by Gia Coppola, Frances’ granddaughter. That is great for her, but not too interesting, given how bad the film actually is and how little there is to glean from a look behind the scenes. More interesting would have been any sort of look at the experimental process that involved the film’s live-editing that took place, as Coppola went on the road with this film. Coppola is also a decent commentator, but he seems to be missing in action this time around when it comes to really wanting to go into what he was thinking in greater detail.
Twixt – A Documentary by Gia Coppola
UltraViolet copy of the film
Do I believe Coppola has more good films in him? Sure. Was Twixt an awful feature? Absolutely. Maybe this film works better with a big audience to react to it, but I am not sure. As it stands, I am really not sure what this film aims to do. It is attempting to be campy and “in the know” on what it is, which never really works out, unless there is some real skill being put to the test, but Coppola is not really bringing anything to the table this time around. All we have is an older Val Kilmer attempting to liven up a film that I guess is a horror story, but more of a horror to watch.