Francis Ford Coppola is quite a well known director, thanks to a trilogy of films called The Godfather that some people seem to like, and a little war movie called Apocalypse Now. He’s dabbled in horror a few times, most famously with a take on Dracula that was anything but restrained. Twixt is his latest film; a much lower scale horror starring Val Kilmer as a horror writer who scrapes a living, showing up in a small American town for a book signing. Rather soon he naturally find himself somewhat involved in some odd goings-on while he’s trying to come up with an idea for his next novel.
There’s a mixture of ideas in this film. It occasionally feels lightly campy, like a grown-up’s Goosebumps, with a gravelly narrator introducing the town and it’s various secrets, a tribe of teens living across the lake lifted directly from Lost Boys, and a few other careless tropes; yet other times it seems to want to be genuinely dark. It never truly commits to either, floating in between much like it floats in between the real world and Kilmer’s dreams, where he finds inspiration for his next story, accompanied by a (literally) glowing Elle Fanning and Edgar Allen Poe. If you think that sounds odd then you’re completely right; these dream sequences are never totally bizarre but are persistent in feeling slightly off. The atmosphere created here is the strongest part of the film really, conveyed through the restrained eccentricity, the rather unique visual style and some nice cinematography.
There’s an ongoing mystery throughout the film that provides some surprisingly grisly scenes, but this film is never scary. The increasingly gothic tone is where the horror comes from, and while it’s a nice change from jump scares and constant in-your-face gore, unfortunately there’s not a particularly strong emotional element that would be required to make it really have an impact. The cast are all decent in their parts, but it feels like they weren’t entirely sure what they were meant to be doing as every single one has a certain detachment, a blank look to them as though they’re a little bit lost. If it wasn’t for Coppola’s name being attached I’d assume that this was the well-meaning work of an inexperienced director. As it stands it successfully maintains a nice melancholy atmosphere for 85 minutes which I really enjoyed, and delivers some intriguing parallels with, and discussions about, Edgar Allen Poe’s work that fans of his can think about after the credits roll, but I really feel that this was a much better film on paper, with room for much more developed ideas than the film that Coppola finally delivers to the screen.