Lee, who managed to thoroughly haunt the TV series, is wrenching and phenomenal as the living Laura. Greil Marcus called her work “the most bottomless female film performance of the latter days of the twentieth century — the most extreme, the most dangerous,” and he’s not wrong. She’s playing a child who tries to protect herself by co-opting a language of cruelty and sexual intimidation, bent on destroying her own innocence before BOB can, a lost little girl pinballing between abject despair, femme-fatale tough talk, canny seductiveness, and just straight-up being a monster. Lee is playing a vast range of stereotypes and archetypes here, all of which still seem to have sprung convincingly from one character’s soul; this is, among other things, one of the bleakest, cruelest movie about teenage self-actualization ever made. The fact that Laura dies at the end doesn’t make her any less the hero of this movie; she’s Lynch’s version of Jean Grey–Dark Phoenix from the X-Men mythology, struggling valiantly against an unconquerable evil.
Sheryl Lee will always be awesome.