Happy Twin Peaks Day! Today we are looking at the 1992 film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. Released after the cancellation of the show, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me tells the tragedy of Laura Palmer, leading up to her murder and right before she is found wrapped in plastic by Pete Martell, played in the series by Jack Nance. While the film is primarily a prequel, there are a few moments that make it a sequel to the series, but that wouldn’t be explored fully until Twin Peaks: The Return in 2017. It has long been known that upon initial release Fire Walk With Me was met with mixed reviews; I’m glad it has been reappraised after its release and given the acclaim, it deserves, because in my personal opinion this is one of David Lynch’s best works. It is a dark and tragic tale that explores the horrors and psychological trauma of sexual abuse and Sheryl Lee gives an amazing lead performance that should have been talked about more when it was first released. By the way, there will be some spoilers in this review not only from the movie but from the TV series that preceded it, so proceed with caution.
The movie starts with the investigation of Teresa Banks, a girl who was murdered similarly to Laura Palmer and was mentioned in the TV series. FBI Chief Gordon Cole (David Lynch) sends Special Agent Chester Desmond (Chris Issak) and Special Agent Sam Stanley (Kiefer Sutherland) to investigate. They go to the town of Deer Meadow, Washington which seems to serve as a dark contrast to the homely and Americana Twin Peaks. The police station is full of belligerent and rude cops and the diner the two agents visit is a dark counterpoint to the RR Diner, run by Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton). This segment of the movie acts as a prologue to the main story which follows Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) as she discovers the secret of who BOB is only days before her death. There are also some brief moments with Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), and a former missing Special Agent Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie) which is incredibly strange and brief and raises more questions that wouldn’t be fully explored until Twin Peaks: The Return.
The performances from Sheryl Lee and Ray Wise are amazing in this film. Sheryl Lee plays the broken and tragic Laura Palmer which such intensity, anguish, and horror that she will nearly bring tears to your eyes. Her father, and eventual murderer, Leeland Palmer, also the mysterious BOB, does an excellent job playing what is essentially two roles. There is a moment after a tense confrontation between him, Laura, and Laura’s mother Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) where he switches from being BOB back to Leeland Ray Wise plays that transition so perfectly. You can see his personality changing while the camera holds on his face. David Lynch also does a great job directing, creating a horrifically noirish atmosphere that feels like you’ve been pulled directly into a nightmare. I wouldn’t hesitate to call this movie a horror film, some moments will make you want to cover your eyes or scream.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is an incredible follow-up and prequel to what was already an outstanding series. Featuring an iconic performance from Sheryl Lee, a transformative performance from Ray Wise and immaculate direction from the masterful David Lynch, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is a movie that will stay with you forever. Make sure to check out the first two seasons of the series and Twin Peaks: The Return, although if you’ve made it this far in my review, I hope you had watched the series before.