Year Of The Vampire: Twilight Is Vampire Comedy At It's Best

(Welcome to Year of the Vampire, a series examining the greatest, strangest, and sometimes overlooked vampire movies of all time in honor of "Nosferatu," which turns 100 this year.)

Thinking about "Twilight" brings back fond (and ridiculous) memories from the past. I was 14 when I finished reading "Breaking Dawn," after three days of struggling to conceal the enormous book inside another, just so my mum didn't know I wasn't actually studying. A year later, the first "Twilight" film was released, and I raced to the movies, not expecting to find myself in a sea of screaming teenage girls who were committed to Robert Pattinson, just like me. That was when the epiphany hit: "Twilight" wasn't just something I loved. It had a much larger fan following than I could've imagined. It also made me realize that I wasn't the only one deeply invested in the love story of a young woman and a vampire who said quirky things like, "You're like my own personal brand of heroin," to each other. It was comforting.

It has been 13 glorious years since then. Not only did "Twilight" heavily impact the success of the vampire genre's resurgence in the late 2000s, especially on TV with "The Vampire Diaries" and "True Blood", it is now a massive pop culture phenomenon being resurrected through TikTok and memes. Robert Pattinson isn't known for being a sparkly bloodsucker anymore — he's had much success in independent films, and he is The Batman now. Meanwhile, Kristen Stewart has a well-deserved "Best Actress" Oscar nod for her haunting portrayal of Princess Diana in "Spencer." Just 13 years ago, these actors were at the center of the world's biggest vampire franchise, and were mocked quite a bit because of it, but oh, how the tables have turned.

As /Film celebrates Year of the Vampire this year, it would be remiss of us not to discuss "Twilight," a film that is so bad, it's actually good. It is the purest form of vampire comedy — a funny, supernatural romance that knows what it's doing. But it isn't credited for altering female-led cinema in the way it deserves. I was one of the many teenage girls who understood and loved the "Twilight" phenomenon while others sneered, so I'm going to take you on a trip down memory lane and explain why "Twilight" is pretty good.

What it brought to the genre

"Twilight" implored us to see vampires in a different light. Stephanie Meyer, the author behind the books, made sure that her vampires reinvented vampire mythology — and she made her bloodsuckers less scary in the process. Some of them (newborns) were dangerous, but they were rarely blood-devouring predators. Edward and his family were vegetarians (sort of) — they drank only animal blood and didn't look particularly horrifying with their fangs out. They didn't sleep in coffins or kill at night. Did I mention they were also romantics?

With this non-traditional take on vampires, the spot-on portrayal of obsessive teenage love and angst between a handsome, brooding hero and a heroine who didn't want to be a damsel in distress, "Twilight" was a recipe for success. And it did staggeringly well at the box office — making over $407 million worldwide against a $37 million budget.

It's also worth mentioning that the "Twilight" phenomenon propelled Hollywood and the world to pay attention to an existing group of moviegoers they'd been ignoring for years on end: young women. "Twilight" was about a young girl's transition to womanhood, the book was written by a woman, and the film adaptation was directed by a woman — and it was a huge hit — a one-of-a-kind victory for Hollywood at the time. 

"Twilight's" accomplishment at the global box office led to the notion that there needed to be more female-led movies. So, in 2012 and later 2014, Jennifer Lawrence burst onto the scene with "The Hunger Games," and Shailene Woodley appeared in the "Divergent" films. However, both franchises based on young adult novels were directed by men, and it wasn't until Patty Jenkins' "Wonder Woman" in 2017 that a female-directed film surpassed what "Twilight" had managed to achieve.

It is peak vampire comedy

Watching "Twilight" now is a past-time for many — the blue color palette evokes a sense of nostalgia in the hearts of Twi-hards, and we wait for its more laughable moments with bated breath, so we may look at each other and laugh together. There's a hilarious new discovery to be made each time.

For instance, I rewatched all five movies before writing this feature and noted some outlandish things that Edward and Bella say and get away with

He tells her that he likes to watch her sleep. She tells him she's not afraid of his predatory nature. He reveals his glittering vampiric self to her by transforming into a disco ball under the sun, and then broods while saying, "This is the skin of a killer Bella." She thinks something's wrong with her because he can't read her mind. Bella isn't funny, but "Twilight" is. Hardwicke makes the movie intentionally funny. Tell me of another vampire movie where the bloodsuckers put on baseball outfits and throw balls at supernatural speed, while thunder and "Supermassive Black Hole" by Muse plays in the background? Tell me of another vampire movie where a vampire must suck vampire venom out of the girl he loves — and has wanted to eat since he set his eyes on her – and successfully does so? Tell me of another movie where a werewolf claims a baby — a baby that looks creepy as hell — and decides they're lovers and biologically links them for life? Is there another vampire movie that choreographs the coolest vampire fight scene of all time — only to reveal that it never actually happened? I didn't think so!

It's not cool to hate 'Twilight' anymore

I think it's pretty incredible how "Twilight" is a film with an ensemble of characters who don't really gain anything, with the exception of Bella and her vampirism). Instead, they learn to live with what they want. Bella is quite boring, but she doesn't like being the center of attention. Her (sometimes mindless) obsession with wanting to be a vampire comes from wanting to protect herself and do whatever she wants, including being with Edward — but as his equal. She wants to be a vampire to stop being a target for them. That's often more frowned upon than understood.

"Twilight" has dominated pop culture for 13 years, and that isn't going to change anytime soon. If we're willing to entertain the idea that "Twilight" can be a dull, unimpressive, and sappy love story between a vampire and a human, we should also be willing to see that there's probably a reason why it means so much to so many people. But regardless of your feelings towards the franchise, I'll leave you with the words of Robert Pattinson, AKA Edward Cullen himself, who recently said, "It's not even cool to be a [Twilight] hater anymore." Coming from the guy who played the franchise's sparkly vampire and suffered years of punchlines because of it, that has to count for something, right?