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Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Cam Gigandet, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Nikki Reed, Rachelle Lefevre, Jackson Rathbone, Ashley Greene, Taylor Lautner

Director: Catherine Hardwicke

Stephanie Meyer’s teenage vampire-in-love novels have become a publishing sensation and possibly threaten Harry Potter’s pre-eminence as the most famous magical character in contemporary cinema. Here, superbly serving the novels’ demographic – young teenage girls - screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg and Hardwicke (Lords of Dogtown, Thirteen) successfully create a winning box-office franchise from the first of Meyer’s four best-selling novels.

In essence it’s a typical high school romance. Except, of course, this time the love interest is essentially supernatural although, as befits the chaste nature of the protagonists’ relationship, there are none of the usual erotic teenage behaviour that characterises the genre. Not even traditional neck-nibbling!

Stewart is excellent as the teenager who, sent by her recently remarried mother to live with her father in the small (population 3120) Washington State town of Fork, faces the familiar problem of fitting in at a new high school. She does, of course, but not before rejecting fellow student pallid, broodingly Byronic Pattinson - until he mysterious saves her from being crushed by a car. He reveals himself to be a vampire (“I’m the world’s most dangerous predator”, he tells Stewart, introduces her to his family and, falling in love, valiantly prevents himself from biting her in the neck, Christopher Lee-style… And he sets out to save her again when another tribe of vicious vampires invades Forks (“Let’s not play with our food”, says one before they dine on a local).

Pattinson, who died as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, is handsome and sexy and bids fair to become a teenage dreamboat in time for the already announced sequel. As vampire movies go, Twilight will clearly fail to stir bloodlust in horrorflick aficionados. But that is not what it wants to do. Its aim is to offer romantic adolescent girls the dreamy romantic cinematic equivalent of Meyer’s novel. And on those terms, it succeeds splendidly.

Alan Frank

USA 2008. UK Distributor: E1 Films. Colour.
122 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 17 Dec 2008