It’s hard to believe that 'Twilight', the hit film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s teen vampire romance novel, first came out on the big screen over a decade ago. Whilst the film was an instant commercial success and adored by thousands, if not millions, of teenage and adult fans alike, the film has also had more than its fair share of criticism. Of course, it also has its fair share of cringe-worthy moments (Bella’s awkward lip biting) and poorly written dialogue (“hold on tight, spider monkey”). But having said that, I truly believe the hate 'Twilight' receives is totally disproportionate to the film’s sins.
Whilst the film, as well as its sequels, certainly aren’t the most well-written masterpieces, they are undeniably entertaining. Their success arguably paved the way for other popular young adult book series (The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Maze Runner, to name a few) to be adapted into big budget movie franchises, all hoping to reach the same heights 'Twilight' did when it first came out. It was the blueprint for all of them. Another thing it got right was the casting, introducing audience to the likes of Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and Anna Kendrick in unforgettable performances and kick-starting their respective acting careers. Twilight alumni have gone on to star in other big titles, such as Water for Elephants (2011), Pitch Perfect (2012), and The Batman (2022).
Another argument in its defence is its soundtrack, featuring the likes of Muse, Paramore and Linkin Park. Moreover, its original song Bella’s Lullaby, the pared down piano sequence Edward plays for Bella, is a hypnotically beautiful theme for the film franchise and has incidentally resurfaced recently as a TikTok meme, demonstrating Twilight’s long-lasting popularity as a cult classic. If nothing else, it deserves recognition for its contribution to music and the world of Internet memes.
One is led to wonder why articles in defence of 'Twilight' are being written in the first place. Rather than focusing on why it doesn’t deserve to be dubbed ‘the worst movie of all time’, it is worth wondering which demographic disliked it so much. After all, 'Twilight' is not the only blockbuster film franchise of the late 2000s to feature cliché plot lines and lacklustre dialogue: 'Transformers' wasn’t any better but got a fraction of the criticism 'Twilight' did.
The first clue is the demographic it was meant for: primarily marketed to teenage girls, it comes as no surprise that those excluded from its targeted audiences should turn on it so quickly. It seems fair to argue thus that 'Twilight' was primarily mocked because of its attribution to tween and teenage girls, and women more generally. This demographic has often been cast aside by cult fans, and one only needs to look at the list of films considered cult to notice that very few are written by a woman or feature a female protagonist. Films such as 'Twilight' are seemingly always cast aside as romance or chick flicks. It doesn’t help that teenage girls are also often viewed contemptuously, their interests shunned as vain and unimportant – be it the music marketed for them or the coffee they drink. It’s possible thus to consider the mockery 'Twilight' has been subjected to as an example of sexism, as while the film arguably has many problematic aspects, there are way worse films out there that never get the same level of widespread hate and controversy.
Regardless of the film’s flaws, it is fair to say that 'Twilight' is a cult classic, a film that has changed the industry. From its casting to its soundtrack, it deserves more recognition for its contributions to pop culture. Whilst it is reasonable to simply not like it, the level of mockery it has received and still receives is unprecedented. So, whether you loved 'Twilight' or hated it, it is fair to say it deserves the status of cult classic, for its tangible impact on the film industry, rather than being dismissed as simply another problematic romance for teenage girls.
Edited by Juliette Howard and Andriani Scordellis, Film Editors