By Caz Armstrong
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, Twilight was released in 2008 yet I have somehow never seen it until now. As vampire season is upon us it’s time to catch up with all things Twilight and apparently choose a team.
Mardy, twitchy-faced teenager Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) moves across the country to live with her estranged father Charlie (Billy Burke) who is the Chief of Police in the rainy Washington town of Forks. Despite the hilarious name, Forks is a real place. Huh.
Once there she immediately falls in love with high-school vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and despite being threatened with death every 5 minutes and narrowly escaping a deadly rival-vampire attack, she manages to go to prom. Aww.
Top 6 moments that made me go ‘huh?’
- The scene-setting
A few smaller things about the world-building raised an eyebrow.
Firstly, the town has a stated population of 3,120 yet the school looks big enough for about a thousand students. Flocks of teenagers stream into and out of the building. Is it the only school in the region?
On her first day at this disproportionately large school Bella is sexually assaulted by a fellow student who kisses her face without her consent. Nobody reacts at all except to giggle. Okay then.
And lastly, Bella’s dad Charlie has been best friends with Billy Black (Gil Birmingham) for many years and their children used to play together when they were young. Billy uses a wheelchair yet Charlie has never adapted his house to be wheelchair accessible and has to lug his friend up the steps every time? Perhaps later films will explain?
- The enormous red flags
Edward is a terrible vampire. I don’t know how he’s managed to keep this secret for 90 years given how quick he is to blurt things out. After just a couple of weeks he tells Bella he can read minds, and with one accidental touch she realises he has no body heat. Has he managed to be un-touched by humans for 90 years?
But more than that, he’s just massively problematic. He stalks her, showing up in her bedroom to stare at her while she’s asleep, in the parking lot staring at her from behind a car, and on a night out staring at her in the dark.
He freely admits it too, over dinner he clenches his jaw and bulges his eyes, growling “I feel very… protective of you” before openly declaring that he can read minds. Later on he tells her “I don’t have the strength to stay away from you any more” and admits to following her around. Terrifying behaviour.
“I like watching you sleep”Perfectly normal behaviour from Edward
- The gaslighting
Edward’s actions towards Bella are confusing to say the least.
While on a school field trip to a greenhouse, Edward angrily tells Bella “We shouldn’t be friends” and doesn’t let her ride on the same bus (two buses, how many students are there?) The very next day he approaches her, acting suddenly friendly…
Bella: “You know your mood swings are kind of giving me whiplash.Totally normal conversation
Edward: “I only said it would be better if we weren’t friends, not that I didn’t want to be.”
Bella: “What does that mean?”
Edward: “I means if you were smart you’d stay away from me.
Bella: “Okay let’s say for argument’s sake that I’m not smart. Would you tell me the truth?”
Edward: “No. Probably not.”
His whole demeanor is manipulative and obnoxious, flirting one minute then angry at her the next. He talks in riddles and pursues her while telling her to stay away.
In fact his whole family is a hot mess. They hate her yet want to drink her blood. They cook for her yet fly off the handle when she (very sensibly) already ate before going to visit people who don’t eat solid food. They resent the fact that she knows about them yet invite her to play super-baseball?
When Edwards vamp-brother Jasper meets Bella he just stares at her agape, practically licking his lips with desire and has to be told to control himself. The rest of the family just laugh! This poor stroppy girl is in immediate physical danger, you psychos!
- Bella’s immediate obsession
The timeline is quite telling. She joins the school in March and all of the action takes place before the Major League Baseball season starts, meaning all this happens within about 4 weeks.
Despite all of the red flags above, Bella by her own admission falls head over heels for this creep. He’s mean to her, he stalks her, he strings her along with riddles. Yet after just one meeting in class, in which he stormed out because he couldn’t physically stand her overpowering smell, she starts to obsess.
They have known each other for around 2 weeks when she finds out, via internet search montage, that he is a vampire. He admits to wanting to kill her, but she is totally unphased by a clear threat of violence and murder from someone she already knows to have volatile mood swings, and declares herself ‘unconditionally’ in love with him?
Yes I’m late to the party on this but was the whole thing designed to be an allegory on abusive relationships and how people can fall so drastically for people who are bad for them? It’s not like he love-bombed her, he was just an asshole.
“About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was a part of him, and I didnt know how dominant that part might be, that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.”Bella, showing no problematic attitudes whatsoever
- The spider monkey
When I say I spat out my passionfruit martini and screamed at the screen, “oh my god what!”
For the three people who haven’t seen the film, Bella stomps into the woods to confront Edward about being a vampire. He quickly admits it (again, how did he keep this secret for 90 years?) and goes into a sulk.
In order to prove how terrible it is to be a vampire he scoops her onto his back, calls her a spider monkey and runs up the side of the mountain. But he doesn’t just run, his legs are a cartoonish blur. He looks like a human funicular going at 80 miles an hour.
Why? To reach a sunbeam above the clouds and show her his sparkly rainbow skin. So purdy! He then perches in various trees for some reason and tells her he wants to kill her.
After I stopped laughing I wondered if he should just move to some progressive city where people would admire his ‘rainbow makeup’ instead of moping about in cloudy town and scampering up trees?
- The whole third act
Evil rival vampires gatecrash the mountaintop vamp-family baseball game and a particularly mean one wants to bite Bella. The ‘good’ vampires hiss and jump into a pose reminiscent of a high school production of ‘Cats’ before Edward and Bella speed away in the car, despite Edward previously demonstrating that he can run a lot faster than he can drive.
The third act is largely just Bella being hunted by this guy, getting bitten by him in a warehouse, and the others tearing him into pieces before burning his body parts in a fire.
Quite a 180 from the teenage moping, night falls the second Edward and Bella drive away and Bella is told she has to run away from home forever or else she will surely be dinner. She’s actually mostly ok with this plan, who wouldn’t be.
When the deadly attack, in which she almost died and/or almost became an immortal vampire, is over Bella is now free to go to prom! Yay!
In all, Twilight is a fairly wild ride even if 80% of it is teenage angst. As vampires go, Edward and his clan are a jarring mix of high school high jinx and deadly murderers. Why they live in a glass-walled house I don’t know, perhaps a vampire expert can enlighten us as to the effects of sunlight through glass.
I’m apparently supposed to choose between Team Edward and Team Jacob. Jacob was barely in the film and Edward was enormously abusive and weird. So I’m going with Team Jessica Stanley, played by Anna Kendrick.