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2011 | 90 min | 1.85:1



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 United States

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3D (native, 10 minutes)



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Screenshots from Twixt Blu-ray

Twixt Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, August 17, 2012

After the release of 1997’s “The Rainmaker,” legendary director Francis Ford Coppola retreated into his folds of own mind, giving up the Hollywood filmmaking routine to construct personal stories and indulge visual kinks. After “Youth Without Youth” and “Tetro,” Coppola returns with “Twixt,” a bizarre mosaic of grief, mystery, murder, creativity, and vampirism, unleashed inside a low-budget dreamscape that shows little interest in storytelling lucidity. It’s an interesting shotgun blast of ideas and moods from the filmmaker, and while it doesn’t braid together as evenly as Coppola might’ve hoped, the picture maintains a full punch of atmosphere, while giving star Val Kilmer something substantial to play after years of making moronic actioners with 50 Cent.

Hall Baltimore (Val Kilmer) is a bored author of witch novels, drowning himself in alcohol and apathy to stave off his wife’s (Joanne Whalley, Kilmer’s real-life ex-wife) financial concerns. Arriving at a small town where time stands still, Baltimore’s disastrous book signing turns into a literary proposition from Sherriff Bobby LaGrange (Bruce Dern). In possession of a dead body with a wooden stake driven into its chest, LaGrange looks to write a novel with Baltimore, sharing credit on a vampire mystery in need of a “bulletproof ending.” Interested, but in serious need of inspiration, Baltimore retreats to his dreams to inspect the tale, coming across the saga of a 12-year-old vampire named V (Elle Fanning) and her involvement with Pastor Allan Floyd (Anthony Fusco), a vicious man who murdered a group of local children. Finding writing assistance from Edgar Allan Poe (Ben Chaplin), Baltimore pushes to learn more about the case, accidentally exposing his own vulnerabilities along the way, emerging from the loss of his teen daughter.

In keeping with his artistic battle plan over the last decade, “Twixt” is an intimate film for Coppola, examining the frustrations of the writing process when the creative well is dry, while delving into Baltimore’s grief, which mirrors Coppola’s own experience with the tragic loss of his son in 1986. However, “Twixt” isn’t a traditional foray into an autobiographical experience, but a genre tale, using the legacy of Poe to inform the haunted atmosphere of the piece, with its spooky community, a possibly demonic bell tower, mist-covered woods, and a gruesome murder at the center of the movie. It’s Coppola in a more playful mood than in recent years, though strict horror enthusiasts should be warned that “Twixt” is more of an art-house experiment than a return to Coppola’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” glory. The blood flows and the bodies mount, but it’s an idiosyncratic effort, filled with tangents and quirks meant to please the creator more than the viewer.

Maintaining a sense of humor for the first half, “Twixt” introduces itself as an odd but accessible yarn, exposing Baltimore’s professional humiliations (his book signing takes place in an empty hardware store) and income shortage, argued about in detail with his wife over Skype. An intriguing character, Coppola treats Baltimore with a certain distance, allowing Kilmer to find his place in the picture, showing signs of professional engagement he hasn’t displayed in a decade. Nevertheless, it’s not a forceful performance, which suits the helmer’s needs, using Baltimore’s dryly agitated manner to slide into the unconscious excursions, which occur during sleep or moments of head trauma, whisking the writer into an alternate universe of research and narrative construction with the help of Poe.

The haunted visits display technical limitations, yet hold concentration through Coppola’s intentional use of color and command of macabre visions. “Twixt” eventually roots itself in murky dreamscapes, following Baltimore’s curiosity as it leads to V’s backstory and her connection to a group of painted outsiders (led by enigma Flamingo, played by Alden Ehrenreich) who may or may not be the vampires Sherriff LaGrange is ranting about, involved in some way with the town murder. “Twixt” is befuddling, but this seems to be the point. Coppola is shaping a symbolic story of writer’s block instead of a concrete mystery, carrying an esoteric tone that will likely irritate those in the mood for more direct reveals. It’s a specialized effort that takes some adjustment to appreciate, with the third act dropping consciousness altogether to mash Baltimore’s realities into one purge of emotional and professional confession.

While I was never carried away by “Twixt,” I found it to be a satisfying experiment from Coppola, marked by his cinematic command and mischievousness, while also suffering from his delusions of grandeur. It’s an interesting effort in his winding filmography, intended for admirers and adventurous ticket buyers patient enough to explore the sinister, personalized development of artistry without the traditional narrative payoffs typically associated with such grisly endeavors.

Starring: Val Kilmer, Bruce Dern, Ben Chaplin, Elle Fanning, Joanne Whalley, David Paymer
Director: Francis Ford Coppola

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