Yes, it’s come to this. Historically, our approach on this site (as Eric laid out in an editorial a while back) is to mostly ignore the whole Twilight phenomenon and wait it out another year or so when all the little Twi-hards will inevitably take down their posters of Robert Pattison’s hair in shame and pretend that they never really liked all that stuff to begin with. Suddenly realizing that something that seemed cool for a while is actually utter crap is an important part of growing up. But if you’re a pop culture junkie like me (and I’m betting lots of you are) it’s hard not to be curious about something that’s as zeitgeist-y as Twilight.
I’ve been surprised at how many times in the past few months I’ve heard people sheepishly admit that they’ve watched “Twilight”. Thankfully, I have yet to hear anybody try to defend it as anything more than escapist pabulum for underaged girls (and their moms), but there is something significant about the fact that so many otherwise macho hardcore horror fans are breaking down and saying “Goddammit, it’s got vampires – I guess I have to watch it. At least now I’ll know what the hell my sister/girlfriend/niece/daughter/gay friend is talking about.”
There are a couple of tricks to making Twilight movies not merely tolerable, but downright enjoyable. The first is an ancient technique that works on most movies: get completely loaded before you watch it. Since this might not be a viable option for some of our readers I present a second option: Rifftrax. For those who aren’t in the know, Rifftrax is a project by Mike Nelson of MST3K fame in which he presents downloadable MP3 files that can by synched up with DVDs of movies that otherwise would never get the MST3K treatment. For the first “Twilight” film Mike teamed up with fellow MST3K alums Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy for a session that rivals some of their best work on the Satellite of Love (you can check out some of the highlights in this “best of” video). The same team returned for the DVD release of “New Moon” for a riffing that is the best (only?) reason to watch the first “Twilight” sequel.
Let’s get this out of the way upfront: “New Moon” is bad. Having dipped a toe into the “Twilight” universe previously I knew I was in for a lot of awkward dialogue and deep, meaningful glances but “New Moon” underlined the fact that I have no idea what people see in this story. No problem- I’m well aware that it’s not aimed at me and as someone who has genuinely enjoyed movies such as "Run! Bitch, Run!
and “Martyrs” I’m fine with the idea that movies don’t need to appeal to everyone. If you judge a movie’s success on how well it accomplishes what it sets out to do, then I guess the hordes of screaming fans and Hot Topic merchandise indicate that that this film series is batting 1.000.
This movie picks up after the events of the first movie. Bella and her vampire beau Edward are happily together until an unfortunately birthday-gift-unwrapping incident causes Edward and his family to skip town (don’t ask). Most of what follows is Bella wallowing in selfish despair and getting close to frequently shirtless werewolf Jacob. When Edward thinks Bella has killed herself, the film goes into Romeo and Juliet overdrive and the gang jets over to Italy so that Edward can expose himself as a vampire and be killed by the Pope of the Vampires. No really, don’t ask.
Unless you’re a fan of oiled-up shirtless guys, there’s really not much worth seeing in the film. The conflict is non-existent, the romance is childish and silly, and the CGI is shockingly bad for such a high profile film. Luckily, this turd is effectively gilded by the Rifftrax crew. There are a ton of great one-liners and quite a few callbacks to the riffs on the first movie (“line… line… line…”). It’s hard not to chuckle whenever the exceedingly goofy high speed vampire running effect is accompanied by Yakkity Sax from Benny Hill or when the riffers make fun of the long dramatic pauses that fill up a good 20 minutes of the movie.
To sum up: if you must see any of the Twilight movies, do yourself a favor and make sure you hit the Rifftrax site first. It’s a well-known fact that the worst movies usually made for the best MST3K episodes (“Manos, Hands of Fate” anyone?) and these movies are some of the worst mega-hits the studios have cranked out in some time. If you’re curious to see what all the fuss is about, the Rifftrax can change the Twilight-watching experience from tragedy to comedy.