Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me


Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)
Dir. David Lynch

Geared to free-fall with nothing in the way of surrealistic detour or arthouse roadblock- Lynch’s pop cultural uncanny was employed in seasons one and two to have the viewer drop their guard, to have them feel as though the horror implied might exist somewhere in their own memories- the ubiquity of television sets in living rooms meant a spectral house guest in the form of figures and beats stripped from their spatio-temporal contexts and brought into an endless flow of laughs and suffering, greasers and Batmen, highschoolers and aliens- Twin Peaks exists in accordance with the logic of the viewer’s everyday life if the viewer grew up with a television in the house, hence its unprecedented invasive horror- in Fire Walk with Me it’s not the viewer wondering what lurks inside and around our (in significant part) televisual memory, but that figure taken for granted as dead (setting our hallucination into motion) addressing face-to-face that which exists right in front of her. Indeed it’s different this time around- it’s not for us- familiar locations are shot outside of the usual camera and lighting setup, Dana Ashbrook is finally in on the joke that is Bobby, James goes from annoying/sweet/dumb to always wanting something (everyone in this wants something), Leland is aggressively evil, the suburbs take precedence over the woods. It’s also though probably an artistic freak out, a response to those who misread the show’s delirious unease (activated through camp) as quirky, ironic, the central tragedy as a mystery to be solved, a person to be fixed or saved. This is a fear that never went away: if the director provides the nerves it’s Sheryl Lee that makes it scream (and anyone can tell you this is what matters most)- all the way to finding her angel again. Until twenty five years later, out of nowhere, this happens:

Laura: Where are we going?
Cooper: I’m taking you home
(Cooper turns around, Laura is gone)

Laura: Where are we going?
Cooper: I’m taking you home
(Laura screams the stars out of the sky)

So concludes this whole body of work- a wound reopened that will never ever heal. But that’s The Return. It’s different here again- the intergenerational abuse that stalks Laura and Leland is in the first two seasons a tragic ghost that hides smiling in the fibre of the world and deforms all of its joys- by presenting it here in concrete we’re beaten with it for two hours, which however harrowing means that we’re able to name the abuser, to begin to cope. All four visits to Twin Peaks are vastly different, even to the point that they can seem oddly separate- this one’s either the cruellest or most compassionate of them all.

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