Just your average boy-meets-girl-boy-turns-out-to-be-vampire-girl-just-wants-to-jump-his-deathly-white-bones story, really.
Meet Bella Swan. She's just moved out from the low-rent dive that her ten-gallon-hat-wearing white trash mom shares with the stud-muffin new boyfriend. She relocates to a rainy mid-western town populated by old people and big rigs hauling lumber (think Twin Peaks with a frontal lobotomy) to be with her dad. Swan senior is town sheriff and sports a 'tache that would be sniggeringly reminiscent of the Village People if he didn't have the habit of snapping his shotgun shut like there was still a chance for him in a Peckinpah movie. Daughter of Swan is a twitchy, scowly type who gives the impression of having sucked on a lemon for the duration of pre-production; that, or she's read the script all the way through and is balking at the dreadful dialogue it'll be her thankless task to utter.
Can I just say, to start with, Bella Swan?!? Even Victorian romantics with a contractual obligation to write three volume novels would have stopped short of calling their heroine Bella frickin' Swan.
Meet Edward Cullen. He's got bigger hair than most of the gals in the cast, a forehead you could use as a chopping board, and a marked disinclination to getting a suntan. Although that doesn't stop him from sashaying around during daylight hours. He just can't stand in direct sunlight, that's all. Otherwise he'll "reveal his true self" and sparkle a bit. I swear I am not making this up. 'Twilight' is a vampire film where the worst thing that happens to a vampire when they get hit by a ray of sunlight is they fucking sparkle a bit. What. The. Fuck? Also, there's a scene where some vampires besiege a victim in his boathouse (excuuuse me? running water, anyone?). Novelist, screenwriter and director finally get done raping the mythology after throwing in a narratively pointless piece of padding where Edward's vampire family cook a meal. An Italian meal. Oh, you did have to go there with the garlic, didn't you, motherfuckers?
Seriously, has nobody who was involved in this precociously presumptious and piss-poor production ever read 'Dracula'? Or 'I Am Legend'? Or 'Salem's Lot'? At the very least, they could have got down with a few Hammer titles. Christopher Lee as Dracula - he's a vampire. Max Schrek in F.W. Murnau's 'Nosferatu' or Klaus Kinski in Werner Herzog's remake - those bad boys are vampires. Robert Pattison as Edward Cullen in 'Twilight' - I don't know what in the name of Bram Stoker he is, but he ain't no vampire I ever heard of. Robert Pattison as Edward Cullen in 'Twilight' is more like the non-threatening lead singer of an asexually asinine boy band who's tried to goth up a la Robert Smith out of The Cure in an attempt to appeal to a more mature audience. An attempt that has all the miserable desperation of Miley Cirus taking the role of Mimi in a production of 'La Traviata'.
(Damn, I ought to abandon the mission statement of this blog and review more bad movies. I am just loving how much of a bitch I can be!)
Oh, and while I'm on the subject, can I just say: Edward Cullen?!? There's a fish-and-potatoes Scottish broth called cullen skink. If I were a lesser blogger, I'd toss in a grubbily gratuitous cullen skank quip about now. (Ooops, I just did.) But still: Edward frickin' Cullen.
Incidentally: Edward / Ed Wood. Anyone? ... Anyone? ... Bueller?
Sorry. I digress. There's something about 'Twilight' that encourages digression. I wish a tape recorder had been rolling while me and Paula watched it; they could have re-released the DVD with my commentary as a special feature. C'mon, which would you rather listen to - Catherine Hardwicke, Robert Pattison and Kristen Stewart waltzing through a scene-by-scene exercise in self-congratulation; or Mr Agitation of the Mind ripping the piss and laughing it up for two hours?
Where was I? Oh yeah, Bella gets some interest as the new girl in town (God knows why, she's got all the personality of a tombstone), principally from a geeky dude who edits the school paper (his chat up line: "I'm on the paper, baby, and you're front page news") and a hunky but self-conscious guy called Jacob (Taylor Lautner) who may or may not be a werewolf. Oh, shit, I just gave away the plot of the sequel. Anyway, Bella is intrigued by Edward's tireless attempts to push her away and not get involved. He has his reasons. Said reasons are being a "vegetarian" vampire. This means he drinks animal blood instead of human blood. I can only assume that actual vegetarians (whose motivation is chiefly the non-consumption of animals) are in the habit of administering a good hard slap every time they see Robert Pattison, Stephanie Meyer or Catherine Hardwicke on the street. In which case: yay! go, salad-munchers, go!
Sorry, I digress again. Where was I? Oh yeah, try as he might to resist it, Edward is inextricably drawn to Bella. He expresses himself with agonised poetic longing. "I don't have the strength to stay away from you anymore" and "you're my own personal brand of heroin" have now joined "I'm not happy with the fenestration" from 'Intersection' and "I chipped my tooth on a quaalude" from 'Showgirls' as amongst the worst examples of the scriptwriter's art ever to make the final cut.
Before you know it, the awkward obstacle of Edward's vampirism has been addressed and resolved (Edward: "I've killed people"; Bella "It doesn't matter"*) and they're deeply and miserably in love, doing all the things that teenagers in love the world over are renowned for doing.
'Twilight' is perhaps the weirdest film I've ever seen. With its hormonally charged adolescent leads, lustfully lingering looks, heavily heaving bosoms and soulfully sappy dialogue, it's got all the makings of a panting and priapic piece of poontang pumping pornography. (Note to self: okay, that's enough of the Hush-Hush alliterative style. Seriously.) It is, in fact, pornography without the porn. They barely even hold hands. Their first kiss is so halting, hesitant and drawn out that I was willing the cartoon crustaceans out of 'The Little Mermaid' to pop up and give it a couple of verses of "Kiss the Girl" just to give Eddie boy a push in the right direction.
At this juncture - ie. before the will to live finally drains from me and I cursorily abandon this review, upload it as it stands and go do something infinitely more life-affirming (watching paint dry, tuning in to a party political broadcast, reading a Dan Brown novel and cleaning the oven are all presenting themselves as viable options) - it's worth noting that Pattison and Stewart have. Absolutely. No. Chemistry.
Their scenes together are painful to watch. Director Catherine Hardwicke tries to compensate by drawing your attention anywhere but to Edward and Bella. They're in a forest - her camera swoops through the trees and spirals through a canopy of branches. They're at Edward's family's designer house - her camera probes every corner of Jeff Kobel's architecture. They're playing baseball in a field (no, really) - the camera lights on three antagonistic vampires who turn up out of nowhere to start some shit. This happens about three quarters of the way through the movie, as if someone suddenly reminded the production team that, actually, there's supposed to be some dramatic tension ... and a villain ... and something that vaguely resembles a storyline. So - apropos of sweet FA and with no provenance, development or context - Bella and Edward and his family go on the run while a "stalker" ... well ... stalks them. Then Edward and the stalker have a big fight. Edward wins and gets to be Bella's date at the prom. So that's all right, then.
There's a twist ending that's as obvious as a Reader's Digest prize draw notification that requires you to buy something before you qualify; a bit part player who's had three lines in the whole movie pulls off a last-moment bit of scene-stealing that makes Pattison and Stewart look totally redundant; then a segue to black and white heralds the closing credits. Finally, the ordeal is over, the terror is terminated, the deathly dullness is done, and the facile, fucked-up fungoo is finished. (Note to self: no kidding, enough of the Hush-Hush verbiage already!)
'Twilight' teems with wretched writing, debased direction, appalling acting and cranky camerawork. It's routinely random and unintentionally uproarious. It notches up non-sequiturs and depilorates dramatic tension. It aims for mediocrity and misses. It's the best film Ed Wood never made.
*Not that I'm suggesting the girl's easy, but - shit! - when this kind of thing doesn't bother you ...