I’ve been employed as a writer and editor in Portland since 1994 (more or less). So when I saw that a new horror entry on Netflix had the same name as our daily newspaper, I just assumed it was the terrifying story of an aging copy editor with limited skills trying to remain employed in the face of career obsolescence.
For better or for worse, this is not the case. Instead, writer-director Calvin Reeder works awfully hard to create a minor-league David Lynch nightmare—with marginal results.
The Oregonian opens on a girl (Lindsay Pulsipher, from True Blood; think Reese Witherspoon’s disturbed kid sister) driving away from a farm (and a drunk abusive father figure). This is followed by a a vague car accident in which “the Oregonian” (Pulsipher, I guess) smashes a couple of unlucky picnickers into pickle relish.
When she regains her senses (if in fact, she ever does), the titular damsel finds herself lost in a weirdly malign universe that bears a striking resemblance to David Lynch’s subconscious.
Looking for help, and finding nothing of the sort, the girl meets a menacing witch (more of a ticked-off art teacher, really); a guy in a truck who doesn’t speak (much) but gives her a ride, and then collapses after taking a long, multicolored leak; and a tall guy in a green fuzzy monster suit who seems to represent some part of her life that she’s trying to repress.
Again, it’s Lynch, Lynch, Lynch. The soundtrack is crammed with shrieks, radio static, buzzers, voices, and other annoying artsy distractions. The lonely, rural, rainy sets could be Twin Peaks B-roll, even down to a shot of the girl walking across the same railroad bridge that poor Ronette Pulaski wandered over, lo those many years ago.
Reeder gets a few points for being a dexterous (though derivative) visual stylist, but his fevered homage is more endurance test than entertainment.
I could hack films like The Oregonian back when I was young and my head was still supple; now I just want my 90 minutes back.