Normally I restrict the ‘How to ruin your own movie’ posts to films that feature obscene levels of anticlimacism, that seem determined to give away all of their secrets as early as possible, ruining any drama that might be created. Not this time – although the film does open with one of those voice-overs alluding to an event later in the movie, it’s not specific enough that it ruins anything.

No, the ruining is done by the rest of the film, which makes a concerted effort to suck every bit of drama out of every possible situation, until all we’re left with is a film whose emotional journey flatlines.

First, the romance plot. A strange, pale girl from Arizona moves to a small town in Washington and starts dating a local vampire. The myriad possibilities for drama are obvious. None are exploited.

1 - Anxiety from being the new girl in town: Nope, everyone loves her immediately.

2 - Social pariah status because she’s dating one of the weird pale kids: Nope. While no one really hangs out with the vampires, everyone likes them. In fact, Edward Vampire, the main love interest, is longed for by all the girls in the school, who are impressed when Bella manages to hook him.

3 - Family objects to daughter dating a vampire: Nope. Dad, the local sheriff, absolutely adores the vampire kids, who never get drunk and cause trouble. And their foster dad, Van Strummer, is a respected local doctor.

4 – Vampire family objecting to Edward dating a human: Almost. There’s the tiniest bit of tension with the idea of Bella going to meet the Vampire family, but it fades away the minute the future-telling vampire announces that she’s already seen the future where she and Bella are best pals. Bella is accepted as a member of the family immediately.

5 – Bella needs to get the right guy to go to prom with her: Nope. Other, non-vampire, boys keep asking Bella to go to prom with them, but through a clever plan of redirecting them towards her sad, personality-deprived friends, she keeps her options open long enough for Edward to swoop in and take her to the dance.

So the whole romance thing is kind of a wash. How do the thriller aspects work? Even more ineptly, of course!

This one’s actually a little stunning, because it involves the filmmakers inverting everything the audience expects about thriller plotting. Namely, that the tension in a given situation will build as things get worse and worse for the main characters, right up until the climax when everything is resolved in a satisfying explosive fashion. In what can be most charitably described as a bold stratagem, the filmmakers decided to do the opposite, taking a potentially threatening situation and sucking all of the danger out of it until the resolution just winds up fizzling.

Here’s the setup - during a game of vampire baseball, the Vampire family is confronted by three rogue vampires who have been terrorizing the town. Van Strummer politely explains that the town is already occupied, and that they should probably move on. The rogue vamps accept, and are about to leave when one of them, the guy who killed Marisa on the O.C., notices Bella, and decides, for absolutely no reason, that he’s going to devote himself entirely to murdering her.

Things are looking bad for the vampire family, but not so bad. After all, in this situation there are seven good vampires, and only three bad ones. Also, the good vampires have baseball bats, so, you know, advantage them. The Vampire family would probably win, but what with having to protect Bella, at least one of them might wind up getting hurt a little. The fight doesn’t jump off just then, though, so everyone has a chance to retire to quarters and plan the conflict.

At this point the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of the Vampire family. It’s their home turf, they have numerical superiority, and the fact that they live in a house and don’t dress like 90s club-scene rejects means they’ve probably got an intellectual edge on the competition. Despite this huge advantage, there are ways the filmmakers could have ramped up the tension in the situation.

Perhaps there’s some kind of vampire code where a vampire isn’t allowed to interfere with another vampire’s hunting, and now that Bella is the rogue vamp’s chosen prey, the Vampire family won’t intervene. This would force Edward Vampire to choose between his love for Bella and vampire tradition, and then put him, a single vampire, and Bella, a fairly useless person, in a fight for their lives against three killer vampires. That would be tense, right up until his family rushes in to save the day at the last minute, jeopardizing their position in vampire society.

Would that have been a great place for the plot to go? Probably not. But before you start impugning my creativity, let’s take a look at where the filmmakers went with it. Just as they’re making their defensive plan, one of the three vampires shows up at the Vampire family’s house and announces he’s not really with the other two vampires, wants no part in the feud, and asks permission to leave with no hard feelings. The Vampire family sends him away, changing the odds of their success to 7:2. I’m pretty sure that, at least from a statistical standpoint, this is the exact opposite of raising stakes.

It doesn’t end there, though. No, Bella decides to flee to phoenix with a four vampire protective escort, while the rest of the Vampire family puts on her clothes and drives away, hoping to lead the vampires in the wrong direction. At first this seems like a great plan – after all, vampires can’t possibly function well in a sunny burg like Phoenix, can they? Oh wait, these are the vampires of Twilight, who have no weaknesses of any kind, so yeah, they’re good.

It turns out that only one of the vampires has actually bothered to follow them to Phoenix, though, stretching the good vampire/bad vampire odds out to an unheard-of 4:1. At this point the filmmakers had to do something desperate in order to make it seem like Bella is in even the slightest bit of danger.

Luckily, they’re willing to portray their main character as an idiot, so when she gets a phone call from the evil vampire, announcing that he’s taken her mother hostage, she rushes over to sacrifice her life in exchange for her mother’s. Of course, this is a dangerously stupid thing to do, since she’s got absolutely no reason to take this vampire at his word that he won’t just kill both of them.

So Bella heads off alone, but, since the filmmakers want to drain the last little speck of drama out of the situation, it turns out that the evil vampire was just holding a videotape recording of her mother hostage, allowing him to be killed by the four vampires with very little fuss. Yeah, I’m not sure why the evil vampire thought that, even if Bella came alone, the other four vampires who could easily smell and follow her wouldn’t track them down and kill him.

With the thriller plot utterly destroyed by inept filmmaking, a last-ditch effort is made to add some drama to the story: In the fight with the evil vampire Bella was bitten on the arm, and unless the vampire toxin is drained from her body, she’ll be turned into a vampire! Again, they’ve completely messed up the idea of ‘raising stakes’. If Edward succeeds, Bella’s fine. If Edward fails, she turns into a vampire. Considering that the only thing she seems to want is to marry Edward and stay with him forever, this doesn’t seem like the worst possible outcome.

Maybe it would be if the filmmakers had bothered to establish a single negative aspect of being a vampire, but since they didn’t, all Edward succeeds in doing is preventing Bella from becoming an eternally-pretty superpowered teen.

Three cheers for… no, wait…

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