God, I love Twin Peaks. And I love David Lynch.
I recently posted on my own blog about what an inspiration Lynch is for me, particularly in how he stays true to his ideas. But for this post I want to focus on something else, because I know that Lynch’s work is not for everyone. Some people find the pacing of Twin Peaks agonizing, it’s humor cartoonish and it’s soap opera presentation off-putting. As a kid who grew up watching General Hospital and Days of Our Lives, I adore it.
But even if you don’t care for Lynch’s style, I still think there is a lot for you to dig into with Twin Peaks, especially if you’re a horror fan. So, instead of worry about the convoluted lore of the series, or trying to decipher the deeper meaning of each scene, think of each episode of Twin Peaks as an autostereogram. Remember those? They were the optical illusion images that contained a picture within a picture. Like this:
You remember those, right? In order to see the real picture underneath, you had to sort of let your eyes unfocus a bit, and sort of let the image come to you.
Okay, back to Twin Peaks, then. If you go into Twin Peaks (or any of Lynch’s work), it works best if you take the same approach as with those pictures. Just sort of take it all in, and let it present its elements to you. Because holy hell, there are some truly terrifying slices of horror throughout Twin Peaks, and the new series has already delivered a couple of gems. Let’s look at one:
That is four and a half minutes of nightmare fuel right there, isn’t it? I mean, holy crap. There’s so much to savor there.
The sound design alone is terrifying. Just close your eyes and listen to the low humming sound, the skipping noises, the fire, the eyeless woman’s clicking speech. We are given this soundscape, and then it is shattered by a terrible pounding, as whatever is outside tries to get in.
Now turn the sound off. Let’s just look at this beautiful scene. The purples and reds. The sparseness of it all. A eyeless woman in a small room sitting in front of a fire. The way she senses Cooper. How she communicates with him. And the terror she expresses when the thing outside starts hammering on the door. And then, the resolve she shows in trying to help him escape whatever is out there.
If you close your eyes and listen, it’s scary. If you watch it as a silent vignette, it’s scary. And if you immerse yourself in all of it, the scene is downright terrifying. You don’t need to know a damn thing about Twin Peaks to revel in that scene. And it leaves you with so many questions–What was she doing before Cooper got there? Just waiting for all eternity? Does the fire burn forever? Does she ever move? Is this a prison? Is she a messenger? What is that thing outside? What would it do if it found them? Could Cooper stay there? Would she want him to? Would he become eyeless too?
Just that scene alone could inspire me to write ten thousand words. And that clip is just four and a half minutes long.
See, much like the autostereogram, Lynch’s work is not about instant gratification. There’s a reason Lynch’s pace is frustrating to new viewers. He’s slowing you down as the viewer, making you unfocus just enough to start to see what it really has to offer.
Because if you look long enough, Twin Peaks has such sights to show you.