Who killed Laura Palmer? The Twin Peaks television series had viewers asking that question from the first episode, and it was answered during the second season. Along the way, many dark details about her life were revealed. Fire Walk with Me, which takes place before the series, goes out of its way to show us every disturbing detail uncovered on the show.
Fire Walk with Me starts by introducting and establishing a number of interesting new characters, including Chester Desmond (Chris Isaak), Sam Stanley (Kiefer Sutherland), and Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie). From there, we're briefly reunited with Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) before spending the remainder of the film with Laura (Sheryl Lee). This is Lee's film, and her haunting performance distracts from the disjointed narrative.
In Twin Peaks, Laura is introduced as a corpse, the mystery of her murder waiting to be solved. Her scenes in this film present little new information to fans of the series. We learned all these unsettling facts throughout the two seasons of the show. In the end, we're mostly watching things we already know about. The difference is that in the show we hear these shocking details, but in the movie we see them happening, which is much more disturbing. It might not reveal anything new, but it does pack an emotional punch that the show does not.
Fire Walk with Me raises more questions than it answers, which could be said for the Twin Peaks series in general. While that makes sense for an episodic supernatural murder mystery, it's frustrating for the final installment of a longer story (or at least the last release for twenty-five years). There are a lot of characters on the show, and since the movie focuses primarily on Laura, we don't get closure for any of the other stories.
Ultimately, Fire Walk with Me is a story that's already been told, gradually, throughout the episodes of Twin Peaks. It's been told as the characters have uncovered each shocking new detail about Laura's past. This film tells the same story, but we are now forced to actually watch Laura go through each and every horrifying, traumatizing experience we've previously only heard about. It's the performance of a lifetime by Sheryl Lee, and it's extremely uncomfortable to sit through. But it does add weight to the already-heavy story, grime to the already-dirty characters, and sorrow to the already-tragic death of Laura Palmer.