(Originally posted at Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat by Sean T. Collins.)
The 13 Days of Halloween: Day 7
7. Lost Highway, dir. David Lynch
I'm finding it difficult to come up with something interesting to say about this movie, arguably the most critically divisive film in the already divisive ouevre of David Lynch. The first time I saw it I spent its duration riveted, then felt that give way to borderline outrage after the credits rolled: What the hell just happened? Was it the work of a genius, or just lousy storytelling? And can we please get that scary fucking man with no eyebrows out of my head before I have to go to sleep?
I probably don't have to draw you a map from there. I'm a horror guy, and this movie scared the bejesus out of me. Anything that frightening deserved another viewing. So (with a great deal of encouragement from The Missus), I gave it a second chance.
And a third. And a fourth. And God knows how many others throughout my entire college career. Lost Highway was not so much a film for me and my friends as it was a five-hour experience: two hours to watch, three hours to think and talk it over. We advanced all sorts of theories to explain the bizarre leaps in narrative logic, the nature of the various doppelgangers and doubles, and the origin of the Mystery Man (Robert Blake in his second-most disturbing performance ever). We marvelled at the gorgeous cinematography, which particularly in the first segment of the film gives everything an elegantly morbid, textural feel, like immersing the palm of your hand in a vat of black nailpolish; and at the brilliant use of sound, which coaxes as much menace and emotion from the sound of breathing as it does from a soundtrack that's at turns ambient and roaring (one assembled by nine inch nails mastermind Trent Reznor). We compared the film to other Lynch efforts, the most germane being the surrealist mood piece Eraserhead and the supernatural horror of Twin Peaks and its theatrical prequel Fire Walk with Me. We'd stay up until the wee hours going over every line of dialogue, every move of the camera and change of lighting. And then we'd go to bed, and we'd only be a little scared that we'd turn around to see a stranger's face. "It looked like you, but it wasn't."