I was lucky enough last weekend to get the chance to see the World premiere of Thor Amli’s third foray into the origin story of one of Twin Peaks’ most tragic residents: Leland Palmer. The film will soon be available to view online but, in advance of its release, I wanted to give a brief review of what awaits you.
For starters, though, if you haven’t seen the first two parts, you can find them by following the links below.
Thor Amli’s inspiration for the story, as stated in an interview two years ago, came from Leland driving around with Maddy’s body in the back of his car. Unsurprisingly then, the first part of his story kicks off with Oklahoma’s “Surrey with the Fringe on Top”.
The first part introduces us to young Leland and brings in the menacing figure of BOB, match-flicking and malevolent.
In Part 2, we get more wonderful soundtrack elements like a ragtime version of My Prayer and several more nods to the original series such as familiar camera angles up staircases, train cars and ‘that gum he likes’. Young Leland stalks unsuspecting potential victims and explores his dark side but there is always humanity in the background trying to force its way through to the surface.
This latest instalment reaches new heights, with Amli really hitting his stride, channelling his inspiration and mastering his craft. The result is a chilling film which gets under your skin and stays there long after it is done.
The visuals are breathtaking, featuring locations in the Pacific Northwest and his native Norway and bringing them together seamlessly. There are some gorgeous shots of the falls, for instance, that feel very original despite the fact that this is a location we have seen so many times. The camerawork makes things incredibly intimate when needed and deliciously detached at times, borrowing from Lynch’s style but never feeling like a copy.
Add to this the incredible soundscape that has been woven through the film and you have something really special. The soundtrack is ominous and menacing, intruding on the viewer’s mind like tendrils drawing you closer to the damaged young boy at the heart of things. What a magnificent lead performance from Bendik Langeland as the young Leland. He really manages to convey a sense of despair and terror at his lack of control on one hand and cold malice on the other.
The film has some nice callbacks to its source material, bringing in another familiar character, woodsmen and electricity and a lovely sequence that recalls one of the series’ most upsetting and beloved scenes: the murder of Madeleine Ferguson. It also manages to bring a sense of originality and freshness to the material that means that things never veer into parody or unnecessary homage.
It is clear that Thor Amli is getting better and better with each project and Systog Film, his production company, is going to keep growing and growing. I can’t wait to see where his next project will take us. I’m sure it will be a place both wonderful and strange.
The film is due for release on October 12th. I’ll post a link to this when it comes out, or you can find it by following @SystogFilm on Twitter.
Thanks for reading,