David Lynch is a director so distinctive that his style has been given his own term: "Lynchian." Urban dictionary has the word defined as "having the same balance between the macabre and the mundane," but it could also be used to describe a film that’s surreal or dreamlike. And while no one makes movies quite like Lynch, there are a few that bear a striking resemblance.
Audiences might feel a little Lynched out at the moment with #TwinPeaks gleefully hitting our screens again every week, but when that’s over you know you’re going to need something bizarre to keep you sane. Below you’ll find seven films that all resemble a Lynch movie in different ways.
7. Only God Forgives
Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow-up to his cult smash hit, Drive, divided audiences straight down the middle. The movie was marketed as an action-packed crime thriller with #RyanGosling on a Tarantino-esque quest for revenge, but what we actually got was a fairytale told with glacial pacing. The film features plenty of Lynchian motifs including lots of self-indulgent singing, similar to Twin Peaks’s Roadhouse Bar and Blue Velvet’s Slow Club. Only God Forgives also has an intensely dreamlike atmosphere that becomes hypnotic to watch if you allow yourself to go with it. The film has very little dialogue, rather the story is told by using gorgeous imagery and haunting music composed by Cliff Martinez.
6. Under the Skin
Released around the same time as Only God Forgives was Jonathan Glazer’s visionary adaptation of a sci-fi novel by Michael Faber, Under the Skin. A hit with the critics but a failure at the box office, the film follows #ScarlettJohansson as a sexy alien who lures Scottish men into her van to… well, who knows? The imagery in this film is strongly reminiscent of Lynch and consistently nightmarish. There’s a repeated image of a naked man standing in the middle of a black room and sinking into the floor, which could also be mistaken for Netflix's Stranger Things. The absurdity and lack of explanation is not dissimilar to Lost Highway, whereas the scenes of wordless surrealism are comparable to Lynch’s unsettling debut, Eraserhead.
Takeshi Miike is quite possibly the Godfather of Japanese #horror. The prolific filmmaker has given us #gory classics such as Audition and Ichi the Killer, but his most horrific film is the lesser-known Gozu. It’s a film that opens with the inexplicable murder of a puppy and proceeds to go further and further down the rabbit hole. Gozu is about a series of bizarre encounters a Yakuza boss has while looking for a colleague he’s trying to kill. These include nightmarish images of a man with a cow’s head and a woman giving birth to a fully grown man. The whole film screams Eraserhead, which similarly and unapologetically pours out surreal images with zero explanation. Gozu doesn’t quite grip you as much as a Lynch film, but it’s definitely a difficult film to forget.
4. The Shining
Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch were both great admirers of one another. The famously trippy stargate sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey no doubt inspired Lynch and has been eminent in his work, particularly in Episode 8 of Twin Peaks: The Return where the audience is taken on a sensory trip through a nuclear bomb. However, there’s no question that Kubrick was inspired by Lynch for his horror masterpiece, The Shining. Kubrick cited Eraserhead as one of his favorite films and before the filming of The Shining began, he made the cast and crew all sit down and watch it to put them in the mood for making a horror film. The slow and unsettling pacing is present throughout The Shining, creating one of the scariest atmospheres ever put on film. If it wasn’t for the equally terrifying Eraserhead then perhaps The Shining wouldn’t quite be the untouchable classic it is today.
3. Enter the Void
One of the most innovative directors working today is French auteur, Gaspar Noe. Just like Lynch, he’s a visionary filmmaker who takes complete control over his films. Enter the Void is a strange film told from the point of view of a drug dealer living in neon-soaked Tokyo. Early on in the film, the protagonist gets shot and dies, leaving his soul floating around the city between past and present in the most mesmerising way. Much of Enter the Void is evocative of the trippiest passages in Inland Empire as well as the atomic bomb sequence in Episode 8 of Twin Peaks: The Return. It’s a hypnotic experience which demands to be seen alone in the dark complete with your undivided attention. It’s quite the journey.
2. Nocturnal Animals
Tom Ford’s twisty thriller is arguably the least Lynchian film on the list. Despite a bizarre opening which depicts naked obsese women dancing, there isn’t anything inherently weird or surreal about it. It features Amy Adams as a wealthy lady who receives a book from her ex, Jake Gyllenhaal. The film is a story within a story that flips between Amy Adams in present day and the story which the book is telling. It’s this weaving narrative that instantly reminds me of Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive. Much of Lynch’s work focuses on dual identities and narratives which is exactly what Nocturnal Animals features. There’s also a nightmarish tone that runs throughout the film right up until the haunting conclusion.
1. Holy Motors
Now this is a film that could give David Lynch a run for his money. Leos Carax returned to filmmaking after a decade-long hiatus and didn’t disappoint. Holy Motors is a film that exists within a dream world in which a man travels around Paris in a limo and dons different guises for separate encounters. These include dressing up as a flower-eating tramp and going home to a family of chimps. The film is totally bonkers for its entire running time and yet remains thoroughly entertaining and engaging, kind of like Mulholland Drive. There’s no shortage of surrealism but my favorite part is probably the ending that features talking cars. There’s even a musical solo with Kylie Minogue towards the end, what more could you possibly want?
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Source: Urban Dictionary