“I’d never given much thought to how I would die.”
That’s the opening line from ‘Twilight’, the first movie in the eponymous series. If that sounds like you, well, you’re probably like most of us making their way through this thing we call life. However, if you go up to a horror fan and tell them that any bit of the “Twilight” saga is a horror movie, there’s a very good chance that you won’t get to think about it any further. In fact, chances are that they will probably plan it for you.
It will be messy.
It will be painful.
Most likely, it will not be over any time soon.
It’s a harsh fact but when you constantly hear this ridiculous notion that “Twilight” is a horror movie, it’s not unreasonable to assume that it might just rankle a few of the gentle souls in the horror community. As a good horror fan myself, I’d never watched the movie. I’d written it off as nonsensical tween pabulum… and you know what? I was right. “Twilight” is to horror what a cherry coke is to a Jäger-bomb: they may both be liquid and come in a glass but the similarities end there.
The movie opens with a morose droning monologue delivered by the series’ heroine, Bella. Thirty-nine seconds in and I’d already decided I didn’t like her. Her words and her tone already tell me she is someone with everything to die for, but nothing to live for. And for most of the movie, she goes on to prove that point. She doesn’t even seem to she have time for friends. At her new school (she’s transplanted to Washington state from Arizona), she comes off aloof and humorless and, for whatever reason, the Stepford Kids there just seem to eat it up, swarming around her, fighting for her attention or possibly just any response at all. It almost seems that this is some vastly stylized wish-fantasy of how either screenwriter, Melissa Rosenberg, or author Stephanie Meyers wanted high school to be. That in some alternate bizarro dimension, the socially awkward are not only embraced, but are also sought after by the popular kids. In the real world, however, the unfortunate truth is that people like Bella are at best ignored and at worst tormented to suicide.
Then, as if all of this wasn’t already tough enough to swallow, enter the Cullens. They drift through the lunchroom like earthbound angels: very pretty, very pale, very disturbing. The kids at school already know there’s something different – and inherently wrong with them. We as the audience should know there’s something wrong with them too. Exhibit A is Edward’s relationship with Bella. OK, I can dig that they look like teenagers so hiding in plain sight is probably a good strategy. But c’mon… Edward is supposed to be over 100 years old.
One hundred years old.
Five score years.
490 dog years.
I’m not even half that and if I made woo-woo eyes at a seventeen year old, they’d be serving my testicles with a side of penis slaw, slow roasted in pain sauce. He’s over 100, but just because he looks like a kid, it’s OK. I’d like to own up to wanting a gig like that, but quite honestly, I enjoy my junk exactly where it is. Additionally, who in their right mind thinks, “Y’know, I’m old enough to be her great-great grandfather, but I think she’s the one for me.”
The movie plods on awkwardly, giving ample opportunity for Edward to vacillate on whether or not he wants to be with Bella, and with her just being batshit crazy. How crazy? She handles Edward being a blood sucking, murdering vampire easier than she does moving to a new school. What the fuck? Before too long, it ventures out from the awkward to the ridiculous, but never forgetting its insipid roots. And to call the ending predictable would be, in fact, predictable.
So, what about the horror elements? Well, there are vampires and werewolves. That’s about it. It’s not scary. It’s not bloody. There’s nothing particularly horrific about it – unless you consider the fact that these movies are making a butt-load of money. Just because the pool has water in it doesn’t make it the ocean. It is, however, fantasy. Boy howdy, is it ever! If anything, “Twilight” is closer in spirit to Harry Potter than any horror movie. But where the relationships in Harry Potter are reasonably realistic – and even believably flawed – “Twilight” presents us with relationships that are improbable, unbelievable and unhealthy on multiple levels. I heard someone compare Bella and Edward’s relationship to Romeo and Juliet. As ill-fated as that relationship was, it was still in far better shape than what’s going on it “Twilight”. The tale of Shakespeare’s lovers endures because it speaks to us at a nigh-archetypical level. Yes, there are problems with it that could be considered vaguely similar, but at no time does Romeo ever threaten to eat Juliet. Edward and Bella’s relationship seems to be born out of compulsion and obsession and really, stupidity. Most of us have the odd bad boy or bad girl in our lives that hopefully we have sense enough to know to avoid. Those situations rarely end well and certainly never leave people saying, “Oh, how romantic.” Usually, those conversation end with, “Do you think they’ll respect the restraining order?” Bella however just doesn’t possess that kind of sense. Edward is pretty and that’s what she wants – everything else be damned. At first, I thought that Bella had nothing to live for, but I think the more accurate statement is that she is too stupid to live. The same could probably be said for the people who keep turning out for this schlock.
Next up, what stupidity awaits under the “New Moon”.