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Twohy, David

Entry updated 25 October 2021. Tagged: Film, People.

(1955-    ) US filmmaker, sometimes credited as David N Twohy or D T [sic] Twohy, best known for the Riddick series Pitch Black (2000), The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), and The Chronicles of Riddick: Dead Man Stalking (2013), and as one of the two writers actually credited on Waterworld (1995). He also wrote drafts of Alien³ (1992) – where his major contribution was the Prison-planet setting – worked on the screenplay of Impostor (2001) during its expansion to feature length, and rewrote and directed Darren Aronofsky's World War Two haunted-submarine (see Under the Sea) script Below (2002).

Twohy's first screenplay credit was on Critters 2: The Main Course (1988; see Critters), where his script was reworked by director Mick Garris, but he came to notice with the fantasy Warlock (1989), an engagingly preposterous mashup of Highlander (1986) (see Highlander II: The Quickening) with The Terminator (1984) in which feuding seventeenth-century wizards Timeslip to present-day LA. His debut as director followed with Disaster in Time (1991), a modest but assured TV-movie adaptation of C L Moore's time-tourism novella "Vintage Season" (September 1946 Astounding). His first theatrical feature was The Arrival (1996), a low-budget Paranoid thriller about an Invasion by aliens in human disguise; the sequel Arrival II (1998) was directed by Kevin S Tenney. Pitch Black, his third feature as director, was a similarly unassuming genre piece about a group of crashed space colonists besieged by photophobic aliens, but proved a surprise international hit; with its astute and sf-enthused star, Vin Diesel, Twohy co-devised an expansive franchise concept on a much grander Space-Operatic scale, unveiled in the big-budget sequel The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) and its tie-ins, including an animated feature The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury (2004) and the first of two Videogames. Though the film had its fans, it failed to cross over to wider audiences and underperformed commercially; nevertheless, Twohy and Diesel worked patiently on keeping the franchise alive, with a more modestly budgeted third instalment eventually filmed for a 2013 release, and plans for two further sequels. Twohy has also written Mainstream films including The Fugitive (1993) and GI Jane (1997), but to date has only directed one, the bravura twist thriller A Perfect Getaway (2009), whose virtuosic sustained misdirection inventively deconstructs the poetics of screenwriting.

A resourceful and professionally versatile B-movie genre veteran who has helped to salvage some famously troubled studio projects during his rise up the ranks, Twohy has seen much of his more ambitious and upscale early work as a screenwriter assimilated into others' credits – though he has reclaimed the favour by reworking, and sharing credit on, the scripts by other hands he has directed. He has grown as a filmmaker with the budgets and prestige of his projects, and with the extent of his own creative control; the disappointing Below is his one stumble to date, and since then he has worked with his own material. An admirer of George Miller's Mad Max films (see Mad Max), he has an unembarrassed relish for genre formulae and their potential for sportive recombinance, but is also engaged, where resources permit, by the genre's potential for epic. [NL]

David Neil Twohy

born Los Angeles, 18 October 1955


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