Seen at the cinema in the company of a mob of squealing, shrieking, totally enraptured teenage girls (as I did), this giddy supernatural romance based on Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling series of novels is likely to sweep up all but the most churlish of viewers.
Viewed sceptically in the cold light of day on DVD, Catherine Hardwicke’s screen adaptation continually teeters on the edge of camp. The special effects are cheesy, the make-up is over the top, and some scenes threaten to tip into outright silliness.
When Kristen Stewart’s heroine, awkward, out-of-place new-girl-in-school Bella Swann, first claps eyes on the love of her life, Robert Patttinson’s brooding, soulful hero Edward Cullen, he looks as though he’s ready to throw up.
To Twilight initiates, the reason is clear: Edward, the pale-skinned, red-lipped hunk who shares Bella’s desk in biology class, is a vampire and he must exert heroic self-control if he is not to give in to his overwhelming desire for Bella and devour her with his passion.
The notion that teenage love is a high-stakes, all-or nothing, do-or-die state of affairs is something that unsurprisingly chimes loudly with Twilight’s millions of young readers, while the idea of teenage sexuality as a rampant force that needs to be held in check clearly meets the approval of many of their parents (mums, apparently, are the books’ other big demographic).
That said, Hardwicke and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg take Twilight’s emotional world and its mythology absolutely seriously, and Stewart and Pattinson throw themselves into their roles as the constantly craving young lovers with complete conviction.
But if Twilight is too bloodless for your taste, a much better movie about young vampires opens in British cinemas on Friday, the terrific Swedish movie Let the Right One In.
Released 6th April. The two-disc special edition DVD’s impressive array of extras include music video/concert appearances by Muse, Paramore and Linkin Park and extensive behind-the-scenes footage.