Twixt is a movie I had to watch twice before I felt comfortable enough to actually review the movie. It’s a strange film, capturing themes similar to Twin Peaks and a handful of Stephen King adaptations. It’s full of oddball characters, literary references and based in a fictional small town that’s just a little off.
The movie is about Hall Baltimore (Val Kilmer), a was-famous-now-declining author who stops in the aforementioned small town on a stop in his book tour. While there, he stumbles across a murder which leads him into a number of supernatural occurrences and a lucid dream like state plagued with a ghost who goes by the name V (Elle Fanning).
Twixt has all the fixings of a proper horror movie: a back story laced with child murders, a current string of killings involving wooden stakes, vampiric overtones and a ghost girl and Edgar Allan Poe traipsing around in the mind of a faltering horror writer. None of this can save the movie from being a muddled mess with off putting dialogue, convoluted story telling, and themes that interweave but never quite find their groove.
As Hall digs deeper into the history of Swann Valley, we are introduced to an overload of story that never gets to flesh itself out to it’s full potential. A number of interesting characters, such as Sheriff LaGrange (Bruce Dern, The Haunting) and town teen outcast Flamingo (Alden Ehrenreich, Beautiful Creatures), are explored briefly but eventually become confusing distractions who add little to the flow or plot of the story.The movie is not without it’s saving graces. Kilmer is the best he has been in years, specifically entertaining whenever he is attempting to write, and Elle Fanning continues her impressive streak as a reliable and talented actress. Bruce Dern manages to steal most of the scenes he is in and, to top it all off, Tom Waits narrates the story. There are moments of shining cinematography and the scenes with V or Poe can be ethereally creepy.
I’ve always believed that all of the great directors have had a great horror movie under their belt: Spielberg has Jaws, De Palma has Carrie, and Coppola has Dracula. Despite his best efforts and a talented cast, Twixt falls short of being anything spectacular. The entire movie feels like a pilot to a television show, and in fact, it would work better as one. But as an 88 minute movie, it’s frustrating to see such potential never meet it’s mark.