Francis Ford Coppola’s 2011 ghost story Twixt is Halloween chocolate in movie form: dark and sweet. The first I’d heard of it was from an article over on TDYLF on films he liked that most people hated, and I was shocked to think that a combination of Coppola, Val Kilmer, and the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe could be bad. I was right. I love this movie. I downloaded it from Amazon the same day I read the article and put it on that night around 1:00, intending just to check out a few minutes, but was so hooked that I was compelled to stay up and watch the whole thing.
Kilmer stars as a nearly washed-up horror writer who goes to a weird little town to do a book signing. He meets the happy lunatic of a sheriff played by Bruce Dern, who draws him into a murder mystery about which Dern hopes they will write a book together. When Kilmer drinks himself to sleep that night, things really get awesome.
He goes out for a walk in his dream and meets the ghost of Elle Fanning, who asks him to help her. This dream sequence was shot so beautifully that I wanted to cry a little, and that feeling was helped along by the tension from wondering when one of the many ghosts the writer encountered was going to go all shaky head after effects ghoul. But this movie is too subtle for that shit. Eventually the writer meets the ghost of Poe as well, and the two of them work to solve the murder while we go in and out of dreams, never knowing what is reality, what is dreamland, and what is fiction.
With obvious comparisons to Twin Peaks in the dream sequences, but more accessible, Twixt balances horror, drama, and humor black as a black steer’s tookus on a moonless night. I think maybe this humor is what bothered most people so much, but I’m not sure, and I don’t like to read a bunch of other people’s reviews of a movie before I write one. All I can tell you is that I was totally charmed by this little movie, and you can’t expect everything Coppola does to be The Godfather. Besides, I like The Conversation much better anyway.
My only complaint is that I figured out who the killer was too early, but I still couldn’t have guessed how the reveal was going to play out. But here’s a question: why is everybody so mad at Val Kilmer anyway? Is it just because he went and got fat? Remember how much we all loved him as Doc Holliday? He’s still just as good, and if anything, the weight helps his acting, because here he manages an air of self-deprecating humor that was impossible when he was beautiful. I say if Joanne Whalley likes him enough that she was willing to play his wife in this movie, even though all their scenes are comedic fights that happen via webcam, the rest of us should give him a break.