The Darkened Room is a 2002 short made for David Lynch's website which inspired several elements of INLAND EMPIRE.
The first four and a half minutes of the short consists of footage sent in by DavidLynch.com member Etsuko Shikata, in which she shows the view from her Tokyo apartment and discusses facts about bananas. The short then takes a stark turn in mood as Shikata tells us, "My friend is sitting in darkened room. My friend is crying." The short then transitions to Lynch-directed footage of a girl (played by Jordan Ladd) sitting on a couch in a purple room crying. A Charlie McCarthy doll lies on a cushion on the floor. Shikata, still outside the room, asks the viewer, "Do you see her? I can’t see my friend. Is she talking? Don’t. Don’t look at her." Shikata blocks our view with her hand, and the remainder of the short takes place entirely inside the darkened room.
The crying girl says, "Are you listening to me? Please come out here. Someone’s saying something to her again. Don’t leave me alone out here. Come out here! Please. Please!"
Another girl (played by Cerina Vincent) enters. She shows the crying girl a tiny cigarette burn-sized (or hole puncher-sized) circular hole in her slip. She says she has no idea how the hole got in her slip, and accusingly asks if the crying girl knows. She continues, "You know, it really pisses me off. You think I don’t notice these things, but I do. You do think that, don’t you?" She continues to berate the crying girl, telling her that she notices "every fucking little thing." She says, "There’s nothing you can do about this little thing that’s happening to you. And even if there was, it’s a little too late to do anything about it, don’t you think? It’s your fault, you know that." She then berates the crying girl for buying a watch. She says, "Those watches weren’t even working watches." She says the crying girl bought the watch out of "some horseshit paranoia crap about how it’s gonna do this or that. Now look at you. You’re wrong." The girl says the crying girl thinks this is all a bad dream, and offers to tell her what is really happening. "Interested?" she asks.