It hardly seems worth recapping the story of the world’s second-most famous glitter-based paedophile (Robert Pattinson). What is surprising is how little happens in the course of this two-hour fantasy romance. Girl (Kristen Stewart) meets vampire. Vampire saves girl from car crash. Car crash gets four sequels.
In between we get Bella googling vampires (this is a world apparently cursed with the existence of a legend nobody has actually heard of), a lot of face acting (“More face!” appears to be Catherine Hardwicke’s only direction) and a general tendency to ruin things (Muse, vampires etc). If you can imagine the “I hate sand” scene from Attack of the Clones and the “I love dogs” scene from Jupiter Ascending alternating for eternity you come close to the inane aneurism that is Twilight; a series of zero-gravity conversations (“Enjoying the rain?”) between zero-chemistry actors, a zero-stakes romance whose only eye-watering element is the age difference.
Even casting aside the Mormon abstinence allegory, the way our protagonist is essentially love-potioned does not make for a fun relationship. Centuries spent avoiding sunlight has made Edward a gaslighting expert, constantly threatening the teenager, making creepy comments (“And so the lion fell for the lamb…”) or watching her sleep. Seemingly the only hope we could give young girls in 2008 was that one day they might meet a man who won’t kill them, even though he could if he wanted to. At least they bond over their pale complexion and vegetarian diets (he does eat meat but as an animal lover she finds his dog breath a turn on).
Trying to do Blade and Prejudice with a straight face proves impossible for the actors yet weirdly absorbing for the audience, making Twilight an emo Mamma Mia!; a film whose simplicity bypasses all intellectual fibre as though injecting every stupid trope directly into your veins, reflecting some platonic form of bad movies that sparkles in the sun like a glittery vampire. Anyone can deliver a dumb line (“Hold on tight, spider monkey!”) but to do so while turbo-piggybacking up a mountain is the stuff of cinematic hysteria. Of course the acting sucks; with that dialogue (“You like purple right?” “Purple is cool.”) theirs was always a fangless task.