David Lynch, the creator of Twin Peaks, is renowned for his unique brand of weirdness.
Most of Lynch’s movies take place in similar settings, typically an idyllic suburbia that hides a dark, dangerous, deviant underworld. These strange underworlds tend to contain recurring Lynchian tropes from one movie to the next: sadistic crime lords, maniacal matriarchs, femme fatales, shadowy hitmen, corruptible teens, deformed townspeople, other-worldly ghouls, with everyone caught up in a dark web of sexual perversion and violence.
On top of this, the atmosphere in Lynch’s movies is deliberately dreamlike (or nightmarish), with dialogue often stilted and characters prone to bizarre and transgressive behaviour seemingly at random. There’s often a mystery that needs solving, and Lynch doesn’t make it easy going for anyone!
Some critics hold Lynch’s movies in high regard, whereas others (notably Roger Ebert) cannot abide their deliberately dark and obfuscating nature.
But if you’re a fan of Lynch’s distinct style then there will be something to like in each of his movies (maybe even in Dune!). This list will rank all ten of Lynch’s feature films in order of their Lynchian weirdness, from super simple to incomprehensible filmic lunacy.
10. The Straight Story
The title says it all.
Most Lynch movies feel like anything but a straight story. The narratives of Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway, and Inland Empire are all draped across brain-melting temporal structures. Even the movies that follow a simple start-middle-end structure are so full of strange characters behaving strangely in strange settings that it’s enough to make most fairweather viewers abandon all hope.
But biopic road drama The Straight Story is a striking departure from Lynch’s token oddness. The story couldn’t get more straightforward. An elderly man (Richard Farnswrorth) travels across Mid West America on a lawnmower to visit his ailing brother. And he does so. The story is straightforward, our protagonist literally travels in a straight line, and his name is Alvin Straight.
For anyone who called Lynch’s work too confusing, this is quite the response.
Released by Walt Disney, this is Lynch at his least Lynchian, telling a story without violence or sex or anything seedy. It’s leisurely, heartwarming, and full of sentiment towards both its protagonist and the glorious midwestern landscapes.
Weirdest Bit: The woman who gives a distraught monologue on how she cannot avoid running over deer in her car. It’s a wonderfully Lynchian moment of straight-laced suburbia unravelling in the face of the unexplainable macabre.