Val Kilmer and Elle Fanning star in this terrifying horror film written and directed by Academy Awardr Winner Francis Ford Coppola.* Kilmer plays Hall Baltimore, a writer on a book tour who uncovers a disturbing murder that could be source material for his next novel. But as Hall investigates the killing, he finds himself confronted by chilling nightmares, including the ghost of a young girl (Fanning). As he uncovers more horrifying revelations, Hall will discover that the story has more to do with his own life than he could ever have imagined.
Though often visually arresting, Twixt
is a deeply eccentric attempt by writer-director Francis Ford Coppola to spin a supernatural story with arthouse intentions. Val Kilmer is top-billed as a faded horror author whose book-signing excursion to a strange small town pulls him into the orbit of a boorish small-town sheriff (Bruce Dern) with his own literary intentions--specifically, a novel based on a string of unsolved child murders, with the victims buried under a local hotel that once gave refuge to Edgar Allan Poe. Kilmer's investigation ping-pongs between his dreary reality, filled with squabbles with his ex-wife (Kilmer's real-life ex, Joanne Whalley) and oceans of booze, and vivid visions of a mystery girl (Elle Fanning) and the death of his own daughter (echoing the loss of Coppola's own son, Gio, who is credited as "creative associate"). Though the trappings of a chilly spook show are evident around the edges of Twixt
, and the picture looks sumptuous thanks to Mihai Malaimare Jr. (The Master
), it lapses too frequently into baffling bits of camp, most notably the appearance of Ben Chaplin as an addled Poe, a dreadfully silly biker gang that seems pulled from an Eisenhower-era effort by Coppola's former employer, Roger Corman, and Kilmer poking sour fun at his own past by imitating Brando and evoking Jim Morrison. Though early word of Twixt
, which saw Coppola reworking the picture in real time according to the reaction of preview audiences, was intriguing, the final product is neither odd enough to court a cult audience nor ambitious or interesting enough to appease fans of the filmmaker or the genre. The Blu-ray includes a making-of documentary directed by Coppola's granddaughter, Gia, which reveals the film's origin--a nightmare spawned by a rowdy evening in Istanbul. --Paul Gaita