Vampires. Werewolves. Creepy teenage girls. Sadly, it’s not a film adaptation of beloved 60s serial, The Munsters, rather an unstoppable commercial juggernaut crushing everything in its path, namely, entertainment, plot or intrigue. Set in the angst-ridden corridors of a Washington high school, Twilight is a supernatural romance that doesn’t deliver on either front and is more reminiscent of traditional sulky teenager fare such as My So-Called Life, Beverly Hills 90210 and the immortal, incomparable Grange Hill.
Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is a newcomer to the sleepy community of Forks, a small rather parochial town in rain-soaked northwest America. Her arrival sets tongues wagging and more than a few pulses racing, including that of the mysterious school heartthrob, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Edward is a member of the most exclusive clique in Forks: that of the insular Cullen family, a collection of albinos who all look like they have just stepped out of an Abercrombie & Fitch photo shoot.
Edward is initially stand-offish and cold to Bella and tries his best to avoid her as he slouches through the school in that Byronic, smouldering way of his. Bella’s curiosity is piqued especially when Edward displays superhuman strength and speed in saving her from the path of an onrushing van. Bella undertakes a spot of sleuthing to try and discover Edward’s terrible, terrible secret. It turns out he’s not an albino at all, but “the world’s most dangerous predator”, a vampire! Edward confesses that he tried to stay away from Bella as her scent was overwhelming him and urging him to drink her blood. He confessed to her that she was like “my own personal brand of heroin”, which is surely the highest compliment that any man can pay to the person he loves.
Soon Edward and Bella are indulging in love’s young dream, gazing longingly into each other’s eyes, lying on the grass together, discussing what it’s like to be trapped in the body of a seventeen year old for over a hundred years, all the classic coupley things. It transpires that the Cullens are the vampire equivalent of vegetarians, eschewing human blood in favour of animal blood. Not everyone within the wider vampire community is as forgiving and the arrival of three rogue Nosferatu into Forks casts a dark shadow over Bella and Edward’s burgeoning relationship. One of them in particular, James, (Cam Gigandet) is keen on hunting Bella and drinking down that sweet blood/heroin.
The Cullens rally around Bella, intent on protecting her from the clutches of James and his band of nomadic blood-suckers. In the film’s finale, James tracks Bella to Arizona and bites her wrist. Thankfully Edward and the other Cullens arrives in time to destroy James, as Edward personally sucks out the vampire “venom” from Bella’s wrist. Bella recovers in time to attend prom with the dashing Edward and all is right with the world.
In many ways Twilight explores the common themes of loneliness, alienation and the twisting, turning path to finding that special someone. In Bella’s case, she finds Edward with whom she shares a deep, unspoken simpatico, but wouldn’t you know it, he turns out to be an undead, bloodthirsty creature of the night. Well, nobody’s perfect.
At times Twilight was less like a film and more like a nightmarish structured reality show with all the vacuous participants competing for attention and airtime. Strangely there is zero chemistry between Stewart and Pattinson, almost as if they’re not a couple in either reality or fiction or perhaps they just needed a better director to inject some sorely lacking passion. Rupert Sanders anyone?
Of course, the saga has gone from strength to strength almost like the vampire subjects portrayed, ingesting vast amounts of cash and spawning a seemingly never-ending succession of sequels that will surely still be running a hundred years from now. This is the first Twilight film I have seen and, unholy God willing, it will be the last, unless by some remarkable and elaborate chain of events I am somehow pinned to the floor in the aisle of a multiplex that just so happens to be running the rest of the Twilight franchise on loop. But that will never happen…