Lost Highway (1997) Review

Director: David Lynch

Genre(s): Horror, Thriller

Runtime: 134 minutes

MPAA Rating: R

IMDb Page

Is “Lost Highway” a great title for a surreal psychological horror-thriller movie or what? The plot here is about saxophonist Fred Madison (Bill Pullman) and his wife Renee (Patricia Arquette) receiving VHS tapes in the mail of what appears to be somebody stalking them at their home. This is a David Lynch film, so that is the normal part of the picture. Things are going to get much stranger from there.

This flick is driven by a wonderful sense of dream logic. People act and talk as if they’re trapped in somebody’s dream…or nightmare. Everything’s mysterious, and the pale-faced Mystery Man (Robert Blake) makes the biggest impression. It’s one, big mood piece, and that mood is unease. Violent and depraved, this thriller’s primary concern is making the audience feel like they’re having a fever dream. Gary Busey (as Bill Dayton) and Richard Pryor (as Arnie) show up in relatively small roles.

There’s a lot to like about Lost Highway, but the film does feel its length (about two-and-a-quarter hours). Like an actual dream, it does seem a little lightweight, with details that are easy to forget. This work of cinematic surrealism is mighty cryptic, feeling a little too opaque at times. It’s actually possible to decipher the events that take place during the runtime (the rest of the Internet can fill you in), but I shouldn’t have to visit a website to get a movie’s full experience.

This striking thriller is one of the more oneiric films that I’ve seen. If you’re looking for a coherent, easily digestible piece of cinema, this may not be it. It’s too dark, dream-like, and demented for that. However, it’s a must for David Lynch fans and those desiring something off the beaten path. I’d recommend it, but brace yourself for something odd.

My rating is 7 outta 10.

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