That Gum I Like Is Back in Style: Initial Reactions to Queen of Hearts: A Twin Peaks Fan Film
I’ve been delving into the world of film outside of Hollywood, and I’m working on some pieces on independent cinema. I’m also an enormous Twin Peaks nerd, and like many Twin Peaks fans I’ve been keeping my eye on where Cameron Cloutier‘s “Queen of Hearts: A Twin Peaks Fan Film.” was in its production cycle. I was excited to see it pop up in my YouTube recommendations, so I sat down to watch it yesterday.
I was blown away by Act 1.
The gum I like is very much back in style.
I’m a hard person to sell on a Twin Peaks story. I’ve watched and loved the series since its original run. I admitted to liking Fire Walk With Me before it was cool to do so. To watch the final two parts of the Return, I started 16 hours earlier and rewatched all of the episodes leading to the last two to get that ’18 hour movie feel.’ I could go on about my fan credentials, but they don’t matter. I love Twin Peaks, and that place holds a special place in my heart, so I wouldn’t recommend a piece of Twin Peaks media I didn’t like.
Forever imprinted onto me is that last image of Cooper in the mirror, laughing, asking, ‘How’s Annie?’ as the blood flows. It’s the question I wanted the answer to for nearly 30 years (in addition to OMG CAN DALE GET BACK?!?), and while I accept Frost’s version in his book and adored The Return— I very much like this ‘unofficial version.’ Because, finally — I get to know Annie.
On a side note, isn’t it exciting, that the Twin Peaks world effectively expanded itself in The Return so that both The Return and Queen of Hearts are able to be true? I think it is, because in Queen of Hearts, I finally feel as if I’m able to be with Annie Blackburn and spend time with her. It’s made me want to get to know more about her.
The film opens with a gorgeous overture sung by Madison Bates, who plays Annie Blackburn. The sonic and lyrical feel of the song is perfect in setting up the feel and the pace for the movie. It’s very obvious that Cameron Cloutier has spent time contemplating how and why David Lynch filmed the scenes the way he did, because after the overture, we’re introduced to the cast and settings in delightfully Lynchian ways. It’s a great experience to hear all of these characters again, and it was a thrill to be ‘set down’ in Twin Peaks at the end of the overture — exactly where the season finale of Season 2 ended. Sheriff Truman’s voice, in particular, is just perfect in bringing me back.
In an unexpected twist, this film invited me to consider the limiting dichotomy of the survivor / victim — not only as it’s used in story narratives, but how it actually fits within the lives of those touched by domestic and childhood abuse. After all, at the narrative and emotional center of Twin Peaks was Laura Palmer, the victim. In Queen of Hearts’ first act we are introduced to Annie as a woman transcending this victim / survivor trope. Here she is a fully realized character with some reasonable feelings about the situation she’s in. Madison Bates gives Annie a strong, fierce voice, and one I’m delighted to hear.
Cameron’s love of the series is in every shot and sound captured — details matter, and I loved seeing them all. There were so many little delights in the details, and one that made me smile in particular was this awesome piece of art in Annie’s room:
I don’t want to spoil anything, but I do want to say that the casting and performances were a delight, and that it was obvious that all of these actors worked very hard to ensure that they sounded, looked, and moved like our beloved characters. The scenes, shots, and inspiration are definitely rooted in Twin Peaks, and the care with which this was made, filmed, and conceived should make any fan proud to see such a great story. From the first Act, it became obvious that the film is going to explore not only what happened to Annie, but would be exploring these characters and town I love and know so well with some depth.
As you can imagine, the actors must have felt some pressure around the performances, to bring them in line with the work prior actors had done. They all did a spectacular job of capturing their characters, and I’m looking forward to how the story unfolds, and getting to know their interpretations of some of my favorite people.
The feeling of this fan film, of being back in the Twin Peaks I knew so long ago, is exquisite. And, just as with the original, I’m both comforted and unsettled. The scene between Annie and Dale Cooper (Nico Abiera) is riveting and uses the uncanniness to ramp up the anxiety. Annie singing to Major Briggs is haunting.
It’s obvious that everyone involved in this has a deep love for Twin Peaks, and has given all of their passion and talent to bring this story to life. Queen of Hearts will be released in four additional installments. To keep tabs on its release, you can watch the Youtube Channel or Twitter for Updates!
Grab a good cup of joe and watch the First Act of Queen of Hearts here: