David Lynch, the king of surrealism, never ceases to amaze me. Every time I watch one of his films, be it Blue Velvet or Lost Highway, I always find something new and interesting hidden in the corners. The slow burn effect of his films takes time to get used to, and you might not even find his films to be that good at first, but contemplate and revisit, and you’ll find these films are incredible. Such did my whole mindset change on Lynch’s neo-noir inspired story Mulholland Drive after a revisit to write this piece. Mulholland Drive was always a film I liked, but never absolutely loved. With this past viewing, though, something clicked with me and the film. It was scary, dark, violent, and unsettling, yet never uninteresting. Taking place in the star-studded, producer-filled land of Hollywood, Mulholland Drive follows a woman (Laura Elena Harring) who is involved in a car crash and knocked unconscious on a winding road in Hollywood Hills. After waking up and confusedly exploring LA, she finds herself in an empty home and passes out. She is woken by Betty (Naomi Watts), a woman who came to LA to become a big name actress. Together, they work to find out who this mysterious woman is, as she goes by the name Rita for the time being as she tries to overcome her amnesia.
Taking a mold that could have made a great, straight up mystery-thriller, Lynch instead creates something like a twisted nightmare that you cannot get out of. Equally terrifying and a beautiful call back to classic noir cinema, Drive is a carefully crafted passage into the dark underground of the horrors of Hollywood. While not labeled as a straight up horror film, Drive scares me more than most horror films. I mean, come on, how could you not jump or have your heart skip a beat during that diner scene near the beginning? Even in my last viewing, I still jumped a mile, which can’t be said for most horror films. On top of this, the slow-burn takes and the constantly moving cameras that put the viewer at an unease are brilliant, and shows how Lynch can craft a well made nightmare. In the same aspect as Lost Highway and Eraserhead, Lynch gets under your skin, making you question every step of the way, and your sanity while you’re at it. If you love Lynch and you haven’t seen Mulholland Drive, well this is the perfect time to get on that. If you never got into Lynch, give this film a try. As someone who loves Lynch to death, even if you’re not into him as a director, you’ll still appreciate it as a piece of art, and nightmare fuel at that.
dir. David Lynch
Screens Monday, March 20, 7:00 PM @ Coolidge Corner Theatre
Part of the ongoing series: Big Screen Classics