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Review: Twixt

The DVD Pile

Twixt DVD 001This film seems to have just appeared out of nowhere with no publicity despite being directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The film is more of a supernatural mystery thriller than a straight horror film but the story seems to be just a series of things happening with no real sense of urgency to tie them together or have them make sense.

Hall Baltimore (Val Kilmer) is a struggling horror writer touring around the country trying to publicise his latest book and he gets to small town where the locals seem completely uninterested. The local sheriff Bobby LaGrange (Bruce Dern) fancies himself as a writer and wants Hall to co-write a book based on an idea has based on series of murders. He offers to show Hall the body of the latest victim, a young girl with a large wooden stake stuck into her chest.

There was a terrible murder in the town in an old hotel where a paranoid religious freak that cared for bunch of young orphans murdered all the children to save their souls from corruption because he thought one boy had run away to join the vampires who live across the lake.

That night Hall has a dream that seems to have been inspired by David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. He meets a young girl called V (Elle Fanning) which is short for both Virginia the girl’s given name and Vampirella the girl’s nickname. He also goes to hotel which isn’t empty and abandoned like it is in the real world but has two people a strange old man who insists on fixing a clock and a woman who wants to serve him breakfast before picking up a guitar and singing Big Rock Candy Mountain.

V appears at the window and the woman tries to sneak out to catch her but V bites her and gets away. Hall starts following her but when he turns back to hotel he sees a dozen young children emerge from the hotel basement with a man who plays with them. V tells Hall that they are the dead kids so clearly that means the man is their murderer. Hall follows V in to the woods but she vanishes. Edgar Allen Poe (Ben Chaplin) appears so Hall asks him for help writing his story but that’s when Hall wakes up in his motel room.

The dream sequences are highly stylized with everything in subdued monochrome but there are splashes of red while V and the other children seem to be more brightly lit. Hal goes into this same dreamland a few more times, mostly to talk to Poe for advice on writing his next book.

Hall’s wife is desperate for money so Hall gets in touch with his publisher to beg for an advance which the publisher agrees to but only if Hall sends an outline with a fully fleshed-out ending. Hall’s search for a decent story with an ending is the main driving force of the plot and the murders really seem to only be a subplot.

Hall is so desperate for a story that he actually takes the idea from the outline LaGrange gave him and agrees to co-author the book with him. This is a strange decision because even if Hall is desperate LaGrange seems a bit unstable and even has model of a vampire execution machine that he has thought up for his story inspired by the stake murders.

It is a strange film that kind of wanders around feeling a bit disjointed before settling down to a bizarre ending that didn’t really wrap things up. I liked the dream sequences but the film did have a lot of them. The film features red quite a lot in the dream sequences and there are clocks all over the place which I’m sure is very symbolic.

Rating 5.5/10

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Posted by on November 10, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: The Raven

Popped off to the cinema to see this film based very loosely on the life and work of Edgar Allen Poe, the influential American writer credited as the father of modern detective stories as well as for his grisly tales of madness and murder.

This film is story set during the last few days in the life of Edgar Allen Poe. Poe (John Cusack) is a penniless drunk (with a pet raccoon for some reason), depending on money he gets from The Baltimore Times for writing acerbic reviews of other writers’ work to keep him in the booze. Emily (Alice Eve) the woman he loves is difficult to reach because her father Colonel Hamilton (Brendan Gleeson) has a very understandable dislike of Poe so they have sneak around behind his back.

The police are investigating two brutal murders of a mother and her 12-year-old daughter in a locked room. Detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) notices the parallels between these murders and the Poe story Murders in the Rue Morgue so he sends a squad of policemen out to bring Poe in for questioning. Although Fields doesn’t believe Poe is responsible for the murders he is definitely connected to them.

There’s a second murder this time based on the story The Pit and The Pendulum and this is a pretty gory killing as you can imagine if you are aware of the story (if you are not I’ll just say the pendulum has an enormous blade on the end of it). The victim this time is a writer at The Baltimore Times who wrote highly negative reviews of Poe’s stories. A crimson mask found on body is a message from the killer to Poe and the police about where he will strike next. The killer is playing a game with them and when the life of his beloved Emily is threatened Poe is forced to play the killer’s game.

This was an entertaining mystery thriller and I did like the inclusion of Poe’s stories in this film. The setting felt authentic enough and there was no anachronistic steam punk stuff going on like so many other alternative history stories. The cast are reasonable enough, especially Brendan Gleeson, but they don’t really get too much development. I don’t have any doubt that Cusack’s performance bore very little resemblance to the real Edgar Allen Poe but it was fun and over the top and similar to Robert Downey Juniors’s take on Sherlock Holmes. Anyone expecting dark melancholia and madness will probably not like this film but for people only passingly familiar with Poe it is a mystery thriller romp with a pulpy comic book feel.

Rating 7/10

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Posted by on March 9, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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