DIRECTED BY: Francis Ford Coppola
FEATURING: Val Kilmer, Elle Fanning, Bruce Dern, Ben Chaplin, Joanne Whalley, Alden Ehrenreich, David Paymer, Don Novello, Anthony Fusco, Tom Waits
PLOT: A struggling writer’s book tour lands him in a mysterious small town, where the sheriff invites him to help investigate a serial killer and Edgar Allan Poe guides him through a dreamworld of ghosts, vampires, and murderers.
COMMENTS: In 2011, Francis Ford Coppola released a movie called Twixt, a vampire/ghost story starring Val Kilmer as a low-rent horror writer, Elle Fanning as a pixie-esque dead girl, and Bruce Dern as the town sheriff/aspiring writer. Not many people remember it, which makes Coppola’s decision to re-release it, calling it B’Twixt Now and Sunrise: The Authentic Cut (2022), slightly baffling. Only slightly so, though, given both how much the man likes director’s cuts and the special significance this film has to him.
Its first time out, Twixt was roundly panned. The writing (by Coppola) is unfortunate, the look of the dreamworld—where Hall Baltimore (Val Kilmer) is guided through the story of a mass child murder by Edgar Allan Poe (Ben Chaplin)—is overly crisp, background characters are either wooden or overwrought, and so on. There are odd choices throughout, and the overall effect is that Twixt is a bad movie—a very entertaining bad movie.
For The Authentic Cut, Coppola removed eight minutes of runtime (four of them from the ending, which was already abrupt) and didn’t add any new footage. While the changes are understandable, such as patching scenes together, creating a twist ending, removing a homophobic joke, etc., the movie isn’t much better for them, and this is tragic.
B’Twixt is a movie close to Coppola’s heart. This is because of a subplot wherein Baltimore’s daughter has been killed in a boating accident, and he comes to accept culpability. Coppola’s 22-year-old son was also killed in a boating accident, in the same way as shown in the film. So of course he would want this semi-confessional movie to be its best and not an embarrassment. But all that works in Twixt/B’Twixt is the stuff makes it funny and cheesy and bad, like Bruce Dern’s screwball sheriff. His over-the-top energy would be par for the course in an out-and-out comedy, but because this is not one, the question of whether certain things are intentionally funny is that much more fascinating.
There are cool moments, especially in the dreamworld when everything is black and gray and red, sometimes looking like an expressionist version of Sin City (which was released 6 years earlier). These scenes are dominated by the leader of the evil, possibly vampiric goth kids, who has the gothiest makeup ever and reads Baudelaire in French. His name is Flamingo, and he broods under the full moon. Again, genius bleeds into the ridiculous, leaving us both chuckling and wondering about intentionality.
Coppola’s original vision for this film included performing it live, taking advantage of the digital nature of editing, and having the score performed along with a fluid cut—a groundbreaking undertaking, which occurred only once, at Comic-Con. One can easily assume from this intention that Twixt was never meant to be the final version.
For people interested in (one of) the auteur’s vision(s), B’Twixt is here for you now. But if you want a low budget horror-comedy that is both intentionally and unintentionally funny, Twixt is a hidden gem.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“The shot on digital low-budget indie film was inspired by dreams Coppola had and, well, that’s what it feels like. Although this trimmed down version is more focused and less clunky than the original (especially with Hall’s character arc), it still feels like a mish mash of ideas more than a fleshed out story… plays like a poor man’s ‘Twin Peaks.'”–DVD corner (Blu-ray)