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TWIN PEAKS FIRE WALK WITH ME ****

From the Devil's Advocates series. Written by Lindsay Hallam.
RRP: £9.99 128 pp. Out now from Auteur Publishing.

 

In 1992 cult cinema's favourite weird uncle David Lynch released FIRE WALK WITH ME (FWWM), the cinematic prequel to his recently cancelled hit television series TWIN PEAKS. Unfortunately, in contrast to the series' acclaim, it was widely met with derision, confusion and meagre box office takings- dismissed by many as a shameless cash in or simply lazy “Lynch-by-numbers”. Many fans and even cast members were disappointed by the film's side-lining of important characters and refusal to address the series' cliff-hanger ending.  It's a humourless and unflinchingly bleak look at sexual abuse wrapped around a dark metaphysical mystery. So, unsurprisingly, general audiences who tend to prefer talking animals and The Rock also gave it a wide berth.

 

However in recent years, helped perhaps by an excellent belated continuation series of TWIN PEAKS in 2017 that directly built on threads from FWWM, critical opinion has shifted to look upon the film more kindly.

 

In this new release from DEVIL'S ADVOCATES, a series of books that explore the classics of horror cinema, Lindsay Hallam does an admirable job of championing FWWM as a film deserving respect and a place in the horror canon. She examines how it fits within Lynch's filmography and also its position within the broader world of horror where she places it in the context of recent ‘post-genre' horror; films such as Nicolas Winding Refn's THE NEON DEMON, David Robert Mitchell's IT FOLLOWS and Olivier Assayas' PERSONAL SHOPPER.

 

Hallam's introduction sets out her intention to consider “the myriad ways [FWWM] can be felt and received a pointed emphasis on how this film is felt in particular”. Lynch is averse to explaining himself, much of his work is best experienced rather than described, but Hallam manages to successfully convey the feelings the film evokes throughout her writing. She does so with insightful, in-depth scene analyses of crucial moments, scrutinising the way Lynch constructs his unsettling ethereal moods using sound, colour and abstract imagery.

 

In a harrowing, but necessary, chapter Hallam discusses FWWM's function as a 'trauma' film and the way it handles the central sexual abuse plot. She has enlightening quotes highlighting how real abuse survivors have related to the film and also examines how FWWM's grimmer unvarnished tone allows a more thoughtful and realistic exploration of this subject matter than the series, and network restrictions, allowed.

 

Hallam culls from a wide range of sources including interviews with principal cast and crew, academic articles and even YouTube videos. She seamlessly works her research into the text making it a well flowing and constantly enlightening read. The film's place within the wider TWIN PEAKS universe is also thoroughly explored with discussions of peripheral media that might be overlooked by more casual fans such as the series tie in novel; THE SECRET DIARY OF LAURA PALMER, the Blu-Ray 'MISSING PIECES' deleted scenes and Mark Frost's THE SECRET HISTORY OF TWIN PEAKS.

 

We get some interesting production information including the motivations for Lynch making the film and the reasons why series co-creator Mark Frost and major cast members such as Sherilyn Fenn, Lara Flynn-Boyle and Kyle MacLachlan chose to either not be involved or be in significantly reduced roles. There are also illuminating quotes from actors Richard Beymer and Peggy Lipton highlighting issues with the way their characters were treated and the overall tone of the film.

 

However, one thing missing, that I would have appreciated, is more trivia and production anecdotes. For instance, I'm intrigued as to how David Bowie got involved in his bizarre cameo, but this is not addressed.

 

Overall, this is a well researched and absorbing work. Hallam ultimately argues that FWWM, although frequently horrific, is fundamentally optimistic and that the tragic protagonist, Laura Palmer, is eventually left in place of hope. Due to detailed textual analyses of Lynch's obtuse weirdness, and a chapter dealing with the film's abuse narrative, this is relatively heavy reading. It's not light pop culture titbits for someone with a passing interest, and more for those with a serious passion for Lynch or academic interest in unconventional horror works. If that's you, then I'd recommend you settle down with some damn fine coffee and cherry pie and give it a read.

 

John Upton

 

 

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TWIN PEAKS FIRE WALK WITH ME ****

This web site is owned and published by London FrightFest Limited.

FrightFest is the registered trade mark of London FrightFest Limited.
 © 2000 - 2018