"Fire Walk With Me" is a rare spin-off that refuses to repeat what worked on TV. Despite mannerisms and "draggy" spots, "Twin Peaks" emerged as one of the wonders of American TV: scary and funny, erotic and serious, offensive and freakish. It meandered in an always interesting but sometimes frustrating way through two seasons, then signed off with a cliff-hanger upon cancellation. When Lynch announced he would continue the saga with a theatrical movie, fans assumed he would: (a) pull out the stops to show what evils really lurked behind the pretty façade of that small town, and (b) wrap up a storyline which tailed off with Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) possessed by the evil spirit "Bob". As it happens, Lynch delivered on (a) but refrained from fulfilling clause (b), opting to do a prequel--adapted in part from "The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer", a tie-in novel by Jennifer ("Boxing Helena") Lynch--which sets up the series by following the last week in the life of the "prom queen from Hell".
"Fire Walk With Me" assumes you will be familiar with the series (some bits are incomprehensible unless you paid attention while other bits are just incomprehensible), making it most accessible to "Twin Peaks" initiates though sometimes deliberately offensive to them. It then omits several of the show's stars (Michael Ontkean, Richard Beymer, Joan Chen, Sherilyn Fenn) and a great many of the "lovable" aspects (wry jokes, damn fine coffee), relegating MacLachlan to a walk-on since the story happens before Cooper was assigned to "Twin Peaks". Some instances of joyless sex and violence exceed anything Lynch could do on television, but for the most part he creates an atmosphere of dread through edgy performances, unsettling lighting and sound effects and sheer grimness. Without the catchphrases and the quirky charm, the film never feels cuddly in the way the TV show did, but it is one of Lynch's finest works and, though deeply uncomfortable, a TV spin-off which ranks with the best in both media.
On the DVD: The DVD is Region 0 with a widescreen print, augmented for 16x9 televisions. It holds a better-looking transfer than previous video or laserdisc releases and offers an eerie red room/blue rose menu. However the disc offers absolutely no notes, trailers, crib sheets, bios, or other extra features. --"Kim Newman"