The Diner Scene from Mulholland Drive
I haven't written in a long time, mostly because nothing interesting happened. Then I watched something scary, and I wrote this! Best way to break out of boredom: watch something scary. But then you may be afraid of your own peripheral vision afterward so maybe don't.
Spoilers to Mulholland Drive diner scene up ahead! And spoilers to earlier episodes of Twin Peaks as well. This is written for people who have already seen Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive, or just The Diner Scene. I highly recommend watching David Lynch's work instead of listening to me talk about it. But if you don't want to be spoiled and still insist on reading, I've labelled the parts that contain spoilers.
Years ago, one of my art teachers recommended me to watch some of David Lynch's movies. "There is an organic quality to your line work. I think his movies will help you with storytelling." He often spoke in vagueries and had a thick British accent that was hard to decipher.
I did not take up on this recommendation immediately, because I remember not being able to finish Twin Peaks as a teenager.
The episodes were burned onto a CD-ROM, and they were given to me by the guy I liked at the time. He listened to Wu-Tang Clan and wore T-shirts with sand dunes printed on them. I listened to Anime music and wore windbreakers. I had never seen anything like Twin Peaks before. I was fascinated. After watching the beautiful opening scene, I was delighted to find that one of the main characters was played by Joan Chen - an Asian actress! I immediately became interested.
However, a few episodes in, I realized this show was not what I had in mind at all. It was weird and unsettling. And I didn't know what was going on. Then came a scene where agent Cooper was inside a dream with a small, slightly deformed man. I'm not sure what exactly was so upsetting, but everything about it made me want to run away. I did not handle scary things with grace. I bolted toward the eject button and hit it frantically. The disk was put away to never be touched again. But in order to convince my crush that I was cool, I proceeded to read about what happened to Laura Palmer on the internet. This relationship never went anywhere.
But the words of the British art teacher lingered in my head. A part of me thought if there's a chance that watching David Lynch would “help me with storytelling”, maybe I should look into it. Maybe I'd grown up since my teenage years and am no longer a chicken.
Out of all David Lynch movies, I thought "Mulholland Drive" sounded the most harmless. Something about the word “Mulholland” reminded me of berries. And the word “drive” is just inherently relaxing unless you're in a traffic jam. So I typed it into YouTube and clicked on the top scene, the one titled “Winkie's Diner”.
Soon into the scene, I remembered exactly why I couldn't finish Twin Peaks. David Lynch has this ability to trick you into thinking that something definitely won't be scary, but it absolutely will be. It's as if he's saying “It's an innocent diner in broad daylight... how could this be scary?” And then the next thing you know you're watching it and clutching your pillows with a death-grip. Yes, it was inside a diner and it was broad day light. But it was also a David Lynch movie.
I glanced over at the YouTube recommendations on the left. There was a video titled “David Lynch - How To Do a Jump-scare”, with a dirty-ish brown-ish blurry-ish person in the preview. A warning went off in my head: "This is not a romantic comedy." But a part of me also thought “That brown thing is probably the most scary thing about it. How bad can this be". I was wrong. I was VERY WRONG. This scene turned out to be the MOST scary two and a half minutes. For the sake of this story, I will describe it briefly. But I definitely recommend watching it. It's on YouTube and very easy to find.
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The young man tells his older friend about a dream he keeps having. We can see clearly his thick eye brows and visible forehead veins. He says his nightmare involves the exact friend who he is having breakfast with, taking place at this exact location. He says there was a man behind the wall. He's sweating more and more as he talks. His friend gets up, pays for food, and they get prepared to go outside. The camera reveals that the young man hasn't touched his bacon and eggs at all. And then they were outside the restaurant, near the trashcan, slowly stepping forward to see what's behind it. Then the jump-scare came. I was not at all prepared. There were sound effects, there were ambiguous mud-coloured person on the screen, there were light-green eyes. It caught me so completely off-guard that I screamed out loud.
I thought I was going to have a heart-attack. But the scene was over in less than a second. The young man falls down dead. This gave me a weird sense of accomplishment: “Ha! At least I'm more brave than that guy! What kind of scaredy-cat dies from seeing a hobo behind a trashcan?”
Pumped full of adrenaline, I decided to test my own bravery (and heart functioning), and went back to play the video again. I thought I'd be safe now. I was wrong. The scene was predictable now, yes. But that somehow does not make it any less scary. There were the eye brows, the popping veins, the sweating, the telling of the dream, the uneaten breakfast and walking toward the trashcan. And then, Whoosh! Out of nowhere, a brown blurry monstrosity takes up all your senses. It was equally terrifying as the first time, if not more so, because I'd put my face closer to the computer. Which was not the smartest choice. But upon surviving this a second time, I've now gained a false sense of invincibility: “Ha! I am conquering my fears!”
Unwittingly, I went back to watch the video for a third time. I put it on fast-forward and sat back from the screen. It can't possibly be scary now, can it? But I was wrong again. Eyebrows, veins, dream, not eating breakfast, walk toward the trashcan, and.......BAM! Brown-colored hobo gobbles up the screen. My heart almost jumps out of my mouth. After that, I was not crazy enough to scare myself for a fourth time.
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If you enjoy feeling like you're on the verge of a heart-attack, you'll probably have fun watching Mulholland Drive. I am 99% sure I will not be watching this movie from start to finish because I don't want to die. But there's a 1% chance that I probably will watch it. If I don't write again, take care!
Nope actually I am not that brave I really really really don't think I'll be watching it. See you soon! And um, if you are my art-teacher somehow reading this, I hope you are happy.
Note: I just want to say that if you don't want to watch a scary movie, you absolutely do not have to. Although it would be nice if you did, nobody can call you a chicken because you didn't finish a David Lynch movie.