(In short? Yes. But please. Keep reading!)
When you are a lover of film, you hear the term, "worst film ever," thrown around a lot. Sometimes, it's a term of affection, when applied to movies like The Room and Plan 9 from Outer Space. Other times, the film community acknowledges that a film is just an unequivocal disaster and there is absolutely nothing appealing about it. This is the case with Jennifer Chambers Lynch's 1993 dumpster fire, Boxing Helena. It's taken me over 20 years to finally watch this film and all I can say is...
Why? WHY? WHYYYYYY?
The Story: A simpering man-child surgeon with major mommy issues begins stalking a rather unpleasant woman who he had a one-night stand with eight months before the story begins. When she is hit by a car outside his house, he amputates her legs and holds her hostage in his house so he can play with her like a shrieking, even more unpleasant doll. Also, Art Garfunkel is there, for some reason? Sigh.
I'm fairly confident that everyone who stars in this movie signed on before they read the script just based on the strength of the Lynch name alone. (Jennifer is the daughter of David Lynch, though after watching this, I'd demand a DNA test). By the time they actually read the script and realized what they'd done, it was too late and they already owed their agents 10%. Unfortunately, Jennifer Lynch is not her father, and this is evident almost right away in the terrible pacing, leaden direction, awful framing, and inability to control her actors. And using "oh, this was my first film" as an excuse doesn't fly because David Lynch's first feature-length film was Eraserhead. Frigging Eraserhead. The apple fell abysmally far from the tree in the case of Boxing Helena, and that is probably why Jennifer Lynch directs shows like Teen Wolf and Warehouse 13 now. It's hard to screw up a short-form format.
As a result of the direction, I don't know who to blame for the horrible performances in Boxing Helena: Lynch or the actors. But I can't let the cast off the hook entirely. Julian Sands, who I've frigging adored in movies like Gothic, Warlock, Naked Lunch, and The Killing Fields, seems to be stoned for the film's entirety. He turns in a performance like he's on a 60s soap opera, over-emoting and screaming as if deaf old people are actually watching this piece of shit. SHE'S SO BEAUTIFUL OHMYGOD MANLY RUNNING FACE SKINNY PALE HULK CRY!
Additionally, I never really understood why everyone seems to hate on Bill Paxton so much. Honestly, I've always found him rather charming and endearing, in a goofy and minimalist sort of way. Now, I believe the whole world despised him because everyone else saw Boxing Helena before I did. Paxton plays a leather-wearing, awkward nipple-sucking, long-haired Lothario with the vocabulary of a grade-schooler. He's basically what Chet from Weird Science would have turned into as an adult. He's just lucky that he didn't have to say, "hasta whatever" to his career after this movie came out.
And, let's get real for a minute here. Sherilyn Fenn. Why? You were Audrey Horne on Twin Peaks. You were engaged to Johnny Frigging Depp (granted, I think he was engaged to everyone in the 80s/90s at one point or another). Elizabeth Taylor thought you portrayed her well in a biopic and she hated everyone that wasn't a gay fella. David Lynch described you as "five feet of heaven in a ponytail." And you sit there stone-faced while someone says the line, "If you were a real woman, you would have lied to me about our sex! Women lie all the time!" I HAVE to believe that you wanted, with all of your heart, to laugh your ass off and walk off that set. I have to believe it. Otherwise, a little part of me will die inside.
And the ending. I had heard rumblings of a "twist ending" and that always puts me on guard. But Boxing Helena has one of the laziest, most inept twists I have ever seen; the kind of twist that is tacked on just to assure everyone in the audience that everything they've seen isn't really that controversial and it's totally okay like this movie, we swear! Jennifer Lynch has stated that she thought she was writing a fairy tale about obsessive love. What she actually wrote was one of the most idiotic and clumsy movies I've ever seen.
Maybe people need to back off Tommy Wiseau a bit. At least he wrote something amusing. Boxing Helena isn't just annoying... It's offensively annoying.
Rating: 0 Confused Bill Paxton's out of 5