Filling the Void: What to Watch and Read in the Wake of The Return

As we slowly come to terms with the end of The Return, wrestling with the meaning and emotional upheaval, it is hard to ignore the void that is left in the wake of this amazing TV show. Without new episodes to anticipate and digest, the rhythm of the week is all out of whack. We need something to fill the void.

So, the team at 25 Years Later has formed a self-help group – sharing the films, TV shows, books and other media that we think will appeal to fans of Twin Peaks: The Return. Some are well known, some are a little more offbeat, but all of them have something a little bit ‘Peaksy’ in their DNA. Of course, we know that nothing will replace something as unique as The Return, but the list below will definitely take the edge off for those struggling to go cold turkey.

And we want you to join the self-help group too! Leave a comment below with any books, films, TV or other media you’d like to suggest – or share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter. Together, we’ll get through this!


Berberian Sound Studio (suggested by Mat Cult)
This is a masterful psychological horror film, from writer/director Peter Strickland. An up-tight British sound engineer, played to perfection by Toby Jones, moves to Italy to work creating foley effects for a schlocky giallo slasher flick. The psychological pressure mounts and events become increasingly unhinged as reality and film begin to blend and overlap. A must for fans of Lynch’s work, especially those who like to “listen to the sounds”.

A Field in England (suggested by Mat Cult)
A period piece, set during the English Civil War, might not seem the most obvious replacement for Twin Peaks: The Return, but Ben Wheatley’s stylish descent into psychedelic magick and madness is not your average costume drama. A small cast delivers an intense roller-coaster ride that works to disorientate and unnerve, building through use of surreal tableaux and moments of extreme terror to reach an explosive hallucinatory peak that is both visually stunning and ferociously unsettling. A must for those who loved the visual language and painterly direction of The Return.

Little Otik (suggested by Matt Armitage)
Based on an old Czech folk tale, this is the story of an infertile couple desperate for a child who adopt a tree stump that somewhat resembles a baby, and their obsessive love for it makes it come alive. Unfortunately the newborn has a vast and unsavoury appetite. This has shades of Lynch’s short The Grandmother, and is from the mind of Jan Svankmajer, the Czech animator responsible for the semi-animated 1988 version of Alice.

Pi (suggested by Matt Armitage)
Darren Aronofsky’s first feature (and still his best in my opinion) is filmed in black and white, and is about a number theorist who suffers from extreme paranoia, hallucinations, anxiety and crippling headaches. Whilst working on programming stock predictions he stumbles on a number sequence that might be the name of God, and various groups seem very interested. Some stylistic similarities to Eraserhead, in both photography and sound, but with the pace of a nightmarish thriller.

Santa Sangre (suggested by Matt Armitage)
A strange surreal jaunt through the mind of Alejandro Jodorowsky, about a man who grows up in a circus. It’s told in flashforward and flashback, and involves his childhood in the circus as a child magician, an asylum, murder, dwarves, clowns and an elephant funeral. If you can get through Inland Empire, then you may love this.

The Shining (suggested by Lindsay Stamhuis)
Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 supernatural/psychological thriller starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall takes a claustrophobic look at cabin fever, trauma, and ghost stories in the American West.

Synedoche New York (suggested by Mat Cult)
Layering reality and fiction in an intricate lattice peppered with doppelgangers and look-alikes who exchange roles until nobody is sure what is real and what is not – Synedoche New York is a surreal, post-modern masterpiece, with lots for Lynch fans to love. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is typically brilliant a theatre director struggling with a sprawling production and the rest of the cast all put in memorable performances, including a wonderful turn by Chantal Hutchens herself, Jennifer Jason Leigh.

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Broadchurch (suggested by Lindsay Stamhuis)
This British crime-drama examines the ripple effects of the murder in a small seaside town in Dorset. As investigation narrows in on a suspect, the town’s secrets are exposed and lives are upended. So far three seasons have been broadcast. There was also a short-lived US-version named Gracepoint also starring David Tennant, and a French adaptation called Malaterra, both of which aired in 2014.

The Fall (suggested by Lindsay Stamhuis)
A brilliant English detective is loaned out to the Belfast Police in order to catch a violent serial rapist and murderer in this psychological thriller starring Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan.

The League of Gentlemen (suggested by Mat Cult)
This unique and hilarious British sitcom brings an entire village to life through the versatile skills of three performers, who play a colourful cast of freakish characters living in the remote English town of Royston Vasey. Those who like their laughs dark and their comedy black will enjoy every minute of this show. Although it is basically a sketch show in format, each series has continuous narrative arcs, allowing the characters to progress and letting their lives overlap and interact. Mysteries abound too. What is going on at the butcher’s shop? What happened to Tubbs and Edward’s son? Is Dave there? If you’re missing the dark surrealism, or off-beat laughs of The Return, then The League might just scratch that itch.

Riverdale (suggested by Lindsay Stamhuis)
If you missed the soap opera elements of Season 3 of Twin Peaks, you may enjoy the dark undercurrents of the town of Riverdale. Nothing like the Archie comics, this is a place where murder and mystery lurk in the shadows. Sound familiar?

Sherlock (suggested by Lindsay Stamhuis)
If it’s clever detective stories you want, nothing satisfies more than BBC’s Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as the titular detective and his trusty sidekick. The first two seasons are tremendous, and while (in my opinion) the last two dropped off somewhat in quality, it’s still a fun show.

True Detective: Season 1 (suggested by Mat Cult)
Centring on a murder investigation with intimations of the supernatural, this incredible series ticks a lot of Twin Peaks boxes right out of the gate. With amazing performances from the two leads (Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson), a non-linear structure and some weighty philosophical and metaphysical themes, this is much more than your average police procedural. And just as the woods around Twin Peaks were integral to the fabric of the show, so the bleak Louisiana landscape becomes a living, breathing part of True Detective. Eight hours of some of the best TV you will ever watch.

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The Architecture of David Lynch (suggested by Eileen G. Mykkels)
Twenty pages into Richard Martin’s book, you’ll still be reading the intro, but you will find that already, the way you view David Lynch creations will have altered permanently. A book that every student of Lynch should read. Absolutely fascinating. Though it was written before The Return (but post-Inland Empire) reading the book will not only enrich your experience with Lynch’s films and the first two seasons of Twin Peaks, it will upend how you read The Return. I know very little about architecture, but this is, even sans Lynchian framework, one of the single most interesting books I have ever had the pleasure to read.

The Guild of Saint Cooper (suggested by Eileen G. Mykkels)
This novel by Shya Scanlon is set in a post environmental apocalypse Washington State. An author, Blake, is tasked with writing Dale Cooper into existence in order to save the world from total environmental disaster- the show Twin Peaks exists in the world of the novel. As he does so, Blake discovers that he’s changed a lot more that he anticipated in the process. A shadow government crops up, Dale Cooper, or rather, Blake’s shadow of him, is heading an underground resistance and Blake’s estranged wife (also named Blake) is a ranking member of it. Has the world changed for the better, or will he only succeed in making it worse? One of the most mind-bending books you will ever read, readers move backwards to go forwards and end up in a very different place than they began…

Kafka on the Shore (suggested by Mat Cult)
Haruki Murakami’s novel weaves two parallel tales into one bewitching, dreamlike work of wonder that explores the fringes of dreams and reality, the process of growing older and the transportative nature of art. Although it is structurally ambitious and thematically weighty, this is a very readable story, filled with riddles, puzzles and secrets. An ability to dance so deftly with surrealism and metaphysical themes, whilst remaining accessible and enjoyable, is probably the most Lynchian thing about Murakami’s work.

The Metamorphosis / Die Verwandlung (suggested by Eileen G. Mykkels)
Franz Kafka’s allegorical story about Gregor Samsa who turns into a giant beetle and suffers a total breakdown of his humanity and ability to function, though his mind remains long after the transformation is complete. His family and peers turn on him, and he turns on himself before long. In the German language film, based on the novel, we view the entire story from Gregor’s point of view, and thus can never see his form to know what he looks like. One of the creepiest pieces of literature I’ve read, written as the result of one of the most depressing life situations. A veritable classic.

Night People (suggested by Eileen G. Mykkels)
From Barry Gifford, author of Wild at Heart – on which Lynch based his film – this novel shares thematic elements with that work. A look at the South in the 90’s replete with eccentricities and other expected Lynchian elements.

Pachyderme (suggested by Mat Cult)
A dreamlike, beautiful graphic novel about a woman in trouble, from Swiss artist and writer Frederik Peeters. The sense of mystery unfolding is powerfully reminiscent of Mulholland Drive as the protagonist, Clarice, leaves the scene of a traffic jam caused by an elephant in the road, to search for her husband, who is in hospital. The atmosphere and mood gradually intensify, as an increasing sense of “something not quite right” builds throughout. Shifting from realistic scenes to wildly surreal images, the story interweaves flashbacks from Clarice’s life with her journey through a strange forest and even stranger hospital. The art is beautiful and the plot is skilfully constructed – there is so much to enjoy in this wonderful, intelligent graphic novel.

The Third Policeman (suggested by Mat Cult)
This novel by Irish author Flann O’Brien (a pen-name of Brian O’Nolan), reads like a grown-up Alice in Wonderland. But it is a murder, rather than a white rabbit, that plunges our nameless protagonist deep into a weird world of dreamlike conversations, missing limbs, bicycles and policemen. Surreal and nightmarish, but also full of ridiculous absurdist humour, this is a book that takes the reader through twists and turns of illogic and madness, as is delves deeper and deeper down the dark rabbit-hole.

The Trial / Der Process (suggested by Eileen G. Mykkels)
In the words of one reviewer “The more you, and Josef K. try to understand, the more impenetrable it becomes”. Both Kafka’s novel and the 1963 film from Orson Welles are veritable masterworks, despite the fact that the film is only a passable adaptation of the book. It focuses on a bank clerk, Josef K, who finds himself in dire straights after being put under arrest and pointedly being refused a reason as to why. Like most of Kafka’s works, this is also an allegorical piece with serious, timeless themes that are particularly poignant in today’s world. I discovered while writing up this selection that none other than Kyle MacLachlan himself played the lead in the 1993 version, which I have not scene. It is less heavily lauded than the 1963 adaptation, but it is suggested that it is perhaps the closest adaptation to the book of any prior. Full of women, intrigue, autocracy and mystery, it’s one you don’t want to miss.

The Underwater Welder (suggested by Mat Cult)
Blending psychology, emotion, memory and science fiction into a heady and moving concoction, Jeff Lemire has created a profound and affecting story in The Underwater Welder. The use of flashbacks and parallels, juxtaposing images and ideas from the past with the present, works perfectly in graphic novel format. The book presents a frank and deeply-felt portrait of a man haunted by his past and frightened of his future, wrestling to reconcile his feelings as he is faced by an apparently supernatural set of circumstances. The way the tale blends raw human experience with sci-fi/horror tropes should endear it to Twin Peaks fans immediately.

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Lore (suggested by Mat Cult)
Author Aaron Mahnke tells tales that explore the fringes of reality and the supernatural in a podcast that has spawned three books and a TV series. Stories of strange creatures, haunted locations, magic and horror – all with one foot planted firmly in the real world. Meticulously researched and beautifully told, these are chilling stories that tap into a rich seam of superstition, folk tales, history and myth. And best of all, you can enjoy it for free. This is definitely one for those who love the way Lynch and Frost incorporate the uncanny into their real-world setting.

Welcome to Night Vale (suggested by Lindsay Stamhuis)
If it’s podcasts you’re looking for, look no further than Welcome to Night Vale, the fictionalized radio show which provides updates on the strange goings-on in the desert town of Night Vale.

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Deadly Premonition (suggested by Eileen G. Mykkels)
The best worst video game you might never play. It’s glitchy, and has terrible graphics, the gameplay is substandard, but the plot is absolutely phenomenal and ingenious. You will never play another video game like it. If you want to live in Twin Peaks and run around town as Special Agent Dale Cooper, then this game is for you, because, essentially, that’s what it is. Twin Peaks the video game – except your name is Francis York Morgan and the town is Greenvale. Solve the murder of 18-year-old Anna Graham instead of Laura Palmer. Visit both the Red Room and the White Room. Narrate everything you do to Zach, your unseen confidant. Be wary of the woods. Also, fight evil black tentacles and the zombies they create (it is a Japanese videogame after all), that is, if you can keep it from crashing. Maybe it would be a safer bet to watch a playthrough on youtube if you are only tangentially interested. Available on Xbox360, PS3 and Steam.

Zero Escape (suggested by Eileen G. Mykkels)
In this series, you play as a character who has memories of things that happened to future you, and the only way to avoid exactly what happens in the future is to live it, die, and start over again, following this cycle until you get each and every piece to fall just so. A suggestion from a friend, she said that, “the closer I get to finishing the game, and the more theories I learn, the more Twin Peaks, The Return, makes sense”. A Japanese adventure, visual novel game series. Available on DS, 3DS, PSVita and Steam.


You might also enjoy:

Maybe Love Is Enough

Disinterment, Voyeurism, Resurrection and Reflections

Re-watch Review: The Genius That Is Part 11.

Written by Mat Cult

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