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October 9, 2013

Movie Review: Twixt (2013, Blu-ray)

Oh, boy. You know, there's always something suspect about a movie when a list of talented people is attached, yet you never hear of it until the screener shows up on a straight-to DVD/Blu-ray release. Okay, when Val Kilmer is the lead in 2013, you can be suspect, no matter where it shows up. Don't get me wrong, I like the guy in spite of his being the worst Batman that will ever be. (Sorry, Affleck haters, he'll be one of the better choices for the role.) Seeing that Bruce Dern and David Paymer are in the movie is encouraging, though they're hard working actors, and I don't think they turn down much. Not to mention that Dern can be a bit hammy and over the top at times. Elle Fanning is still getting her sea legs behind her sister's fame. The one odd duck on this list is Francis Ford Coppola, who wrote, produced and directed Twixt. He's made some legendary and brilliant films, including The Rainmaker, which I think is one of Matt Damon's best. I'll be honest, I didn't even realize it was his movie until the end credits rolled. This looks like a horror geek's first movie. I'll explain why.

Kilmer plays Hall Baltimore, a struggling horror writer on his way to a book signing in a small town. When he arrives, he sits waiting for anyone to show up to the hardware/book store where the signing takes place. One fan shows up with excitement. It's the local sheriff, played by Bruce Dern in a super campy performance. Sheriff LaGrange asks Hall to read some of his short stories, since he's also a fledgling writer. Hall declines, until LaGrange tells him about a building where thirteen children were murdered, and he promises to show Hall a corpse that's being held at the police station. The crazy thing about the corpse is that a stake has been slowly pushed through its heart.

Hall decides to stay in the town to research the murders, and he agrees to write a book with LaGrange. In his hotel room, he Skypes with his wife (Joanne Whalley), who is angry that he isn't coming home, and really needs money. She threatens to sell some of his priceless collectible books at one point. Whalley gives possibly the worst performance in the movie. It's like she's a Disney wicked queen or something. It was terrible. Hall also Skypes his publisher (Paymer) to beg for an advance for his new book.

As he takes a late night stroll, through the woods, he is befriended by a young girl named V (Fanning), who is wearing odd clothing and makeup. Hall is the only person on the planet who doesn't see the supernatural aspect of things. If you can't figure out that she's one of the thirteen murdered children in the first half second that she's on screen, you need help.

I got a very strong In the Mouth of Madness vibe from this movie. I hate In the Mouth of Madness. It solidified my distaste for Sam Neill. I promised to tell you why this felt like a horror geek's first movie effort. The writing is poor, and it relies on connections to Edgar Allen Poe. That's something freshman filmmakers do. They'll name a character Romero or use a location connected to a horror icon. It's so common that's it's practically cliche at this point. Coppola took it one step further. He had Hall spending time with the ghost of Poe. Yeah, he did that. They walked through the woods, had a drink together and Poe helped Hall solve the mystery of writing a good ending to his book. It was awful.

If you're a Coppola fan, and you want to remain a Coppola fan, stay away from Twixt. I expect crap from the other Coppolas, like Sofia and good old Nicky Cage, but not from FF. This is a stinker with little redeeming value. Even the box art is bad. I guess he was due for a bomb sooner or later.

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