Sunday, 5 December 2010

Twin Peaks: A Fresh Eye - What makes BOB so scary?

What makes BOB so scary?

The first time you ever see BOB, you see him from Sarah Palmer’s point of view, so that when he is revealed crouching down behind the bedpost, he is staring directly into your eyes. BOB is watching you. Hiding behind the bedpost plays on the childhood fear of the monsters that hide beneath your bed.

Ronette’s nightmare is fragmented, revealing only short and violent blasts of the puzzle, which your mind instinctively attempts to solve. BOB is again seen from Ronette’s point of view, so BOB is actually running towards you. The fact that initially you are not presented with any information on this character such as, who he is, where he is from and where is he now?, only adds to the fear. When BOB cries out at the end of the dream, he lets out several distorted voices. You don’t know why he is screaming, is he laughing? Is he in pain? All of these questions increase the mystery and replay in your mind long after the episode has ended.

The next time you see BOB is in the Heyward residence. This time you see him from Maddy’s perspective and through Maddy’s eyes. He slowly walks around the corner of the room, with a crazed glint in his eye, remains focused and crawls over the furniture until he reaches Maddy. However, you don’t see him reach Maddy, what you see is BOB creeping around your corner, crawling over your sofa and almost crawling out of the screen. It is one of Twin Peaks most haunting scenes, because you are seeing BOB come to life with your very own eyes. At the very end of this episode, Cooper’s dream presents you with BOB, again he is seen from Cooper’s point of view, he is out of focus, so your brain is working hard to picture him and when he comes into focus, he is right there, looking directly into your eyes, the window to your soul.

BOB’s scenes are unpredictable, because there doesn’t have to be anybody there for you to see him. In appearance he looks relatively normal, there are no masks, no costumes, just over-exaggerated facial expressions. He exists in visions and in the mind and imagination of specific characters, “the gifted and the damned”. What makes BOB so frightening is that once you have seen him lurking or crawling or killing, he exists within your mind and within your imagination and that is his most terrifying weapon.

“He is BOB, eager for fun, he wears a smile, everybody RUN!”

The man behind BOB is Frank Silva, who was a set designer and also worked on Wild at Heart (1990). David Lynch was about to film a scene featuring Laura’s empty bedroom whilst Silva was continuing to dress the set. A fellow set dresser told Frank to be careful that he didn’t lock himself in the room, as he had moved a chest of drawers behind the door. Lynch heard this and had an image in his head of Frank being locked in the room on his own. He took Frank aside and asked him if he had any experience of acting, which he had. It was then Lynch created BOB. He instructed Silva to crouch at the foot of the bed and look frightened. Lynch filmed him and then filmed the scene of the empty room. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do with the scene but later, placed it as part of Sarah’s vision. Silva didn’t consider himself as an actor, he didn’t have costume or make-up, he continued his job as a set dresser and just turned up for filming as and when requested.

On 13th September 1995 Frank Silva died of Aids yet his legacy will continue to haunt the minds of Twin Peaks fans forever.

In an attempt to humanise BOB here is an interesting vintage video, that features BOB and The Man from Another Place out of character. Beneath the video is a link to the brilliant Twin Peaks Archive, where you can read an interview with Frank Silva from 1993.


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