It's always a shame to see filmmakers succumb to this type of career arc. Over the last few decades, many great and promising directors have given us terrific movies, films that have won awards and pushed us into the future, only to follow them with crass commercial flops and self-indulgent disappointments. The most gut wrenching example is Francis Ford Coppola. Here is a director who in the 60s and 70s gave us 'The Godfather I and II' and 'Apocalypse Now.' With those films alone, I would have predicted a big and bright future for Coppola, one where his artistic eye would continue to shower us with great films. Boy, was I wrong. In the years since, while turning out the occasionally entertaining work for hire (think 'Tucker: The Man and His Dream' and 'The Rainmaker') Coppola has also given us such gems as 'Jack,' 'Tetro,' and 'Youth Without Youth.' We now live in a time where the guy who gave us 'The Godfather' is making lousy movies that are basically going direct-to-video.
This is a terrible film, one that wasn't given a theatrical release, but was released straight to home video. It's a disaster on almost every possible level. Coppola stated that he thought this movie up in a dream and decided it was a good idea to get the cameras rolling. In what could be described as a cross between Edgar Allen Poe and 'Twin Peaks,' this unscary horror movie features slow pacing, atrocious and downright silly dialogue, and some pretty goofy performances. 'Twixt' is the name of the film, formally called 'Twixt Now,' and stars Val Kilmer, Bruce Dern, and Elle Fanning. I imagine the only reason these great actors said "Yes" to this was to work with a once great director, ask him stories about the 60s and 70s, and maybe get a case of good wine.
'Twixt' follows Hall Baltimore (Kilmer) who was a once great horror fiction writer (similar to Stephen King), who is now considered a joke for his many novels about witchcraft. Kilmer is on a book tour promoting his new work where he stops and sets up his table in an old hardware store in a small town. Well, nobody cares enough to show up except the sheriff, Bobby LaGrange (Bruce Dern), who is a fan of Baltimore's and is an amateur horror writer himself. LaGrange actually wants to write a book with Baltimore and has the perfect story in mind, along with a title 'The Vampire Executions.' LaGrange thought this story up after a young girl showed up dead in their town with a wooden stake driven through her heart. Her body is still in the county morgue.
After Baltimore agrees to help write with LaGrange and solve this mystery, he checks into a seedy extended stay motel. Unfortunately for us, a lot of the film takes place inside Baltimore's dreams and nightmares, which are black and white, with certain objects in distinct color. Coppola must have watched 'Sin City' several times and thought that was the artistic way he wanted to go. Baltimore's dreams include Edgar Allan Poe (Ben Chaplin) who discusses horror writing, and a young girl named V (Elle Fanning) who is not what she seems. As we weave in and out of these dream states, Baltimore begins to realize that there is something much more sinister at work here.
Coppola still knows how to use a camera, which is good, but his story telling and editing have fallen off such a steep cliff, I don't think he'll ever get them back. The guy needs Walter Murch, and he needs him now. The dialogue is shoddy, with Kilmer turning in an underwhelming performance that's just about laughable to watch. Dern and Fanning do okay jobs with what they're given, but we've seen much better in their other projects. I hope the best for Coppola in the future, but after this mess and his previous recent attempts, my expectations are extremely low.
'Twixt' comes with an odd 1080p HD transfer presented in a rare 2.00:1 aspect ratio. About 50 percent of the image looks great, with fine detail that showcase pores and wrinkles in the actor's faces and stitching in their costumes. On the 50 percent, the image is soft, vague, and flat, with no depth whatsoever. In the darker scenes, some look clear of noise while others don't.
The colors look over done as to punctuate certain objects, leaving the whole image looking unrealistic and somewhat flat. Most of the black levels seem to run deep and inky, but those have some of their own problems as well. While Coppola used lower end HD cameras to make 'Twixt,' this could be considered a true to source picture. There are some minor compression issues as well with this release.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix that sounds run-of-the-mill. I expected a little better sound from a horror flick. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand. It's well balanced on the fronts with no signs of pops, cracks, or hissing. The ambient sounds of the townsfolk and sirens going off to get some modest play from the surrounds, but not all to often.
The score is creepy and sounds decent as it never drowns out any of the dialogue or sound effects. Overall, this audio presentation just seemed underwhelming for a horror film, one which could and should have relied on sound to amp up the suspense, but didn't. Again, this audio presentation doesn't have issues, but it could have been a lot better.
'Twixt' is a terrible film up and down. Silly dialogue, story structure, and slow pacing make this movie unwatchable. It's always sad to see a once great director make terrible stuff like this, but it happens. Coppola just happens to be one of the best/worst examples. The video and audio presentations aren't up to the high standards we prefer, nor is the only extra worth watching. Feel free to skip this one.